Central EMS Working to Help First Responders with Depression

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- - One in four first responders suffer from mental health problems, according to a recent study out of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Central EMS Chief Becky Stewart has been a first responder for more than thirty years. "We're out there providing service and taking care of other people. We're givers and we're caretakers," said Chief Stewart. 

Central EMS has seen the problem first hand which is why they said it is important to be open and honest about how they are feeling.  Chief Stewart said, "We're seeing the same type of manifestation of concern or issues as are seen in the military and special forces."

The "tough guy" stigma of first responders is slowly fading away. "The culture is changing a little bit too. It used to be we're macho. We put on our capes and we go out there and we save the world," said Chief Stewart. 

First responders aren't just everyday heroes, they're humans like you and me, which is why it's so important for them to talk about what they're seeing and how they're feeling." Chief Stewart said, "We're exposed to abnormal stuff every day, all day. We live the news.That's what we do. We have normal reactions to it."

Central EMS has a program in place to help those who are struggling.  "We provide counseling and coaching by mental health professionals, behavioral specialists who are trained in emergency services work and they know what we do," said Chief Stewart. 

Emergency crews said they cannot properly do the job without placing their own mental health as a priority. "We want to take care of ourselves and each other so that we can continue to take care of the public."

 


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