First Responders face hardships that most of us will never have to know, including coping with line of duty death or injury, responding to the death of a child or friend or family member, working the scene of multiple fatalities, being in a life-threatening situation, helping people with serious illnesses and injuries, and being exposed to infectious disease.
First Responders face trauma day in and day out, and it takes a toll.
Omaha police and firefighters say the homicides and fatal accidents they encounter on the job can stay with them for months or even years afterward. There is not “one” event that is the event.
In 2016, 267 local paramedics serviced 45,733 dispatches. That’s 45,733 times emergency services were needed. Imagine the scenarios encountered.
First Responders need support to handle job-related trauma, especially post-traumatic stress disorder, before it affects their careers, families and mental health. Stress can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia, GI and heart issues, and suicidal thoughts. There have been several cases of First Responders in Nebraska struggling with PTSD and committing suicide, and five police officers and one firefighter have applied for PTSD or mental health-related disability pensions in the last two years.
While support exists, not all First Responders are being reached, there are gaps in treatment, and more mental health resources are needed. Another barrier is that it can be difficult for First Responders – who are used to being pillars of strength – to reach out for help.
More education is needed for First Responders and their families regarding the effects of chronic stress from a career as a first responder and how to build resilience to help counteract the stress.
The First Responders Foundation helps First Responders struggling with PTSD and chronic stress by supporting local resources such as OPD’s and OFD’s peer support programs; sending First Responders and their families to seminars such as Kevin Gilmartin’s Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement; and funding other mental health services.
Your donation helps First Responders get the help they need to cope with job-related trauma. Together we can help take care of the people that we depend on in our greatest times of need.
Donate today and help support First Responders and their families coping with PTSD.
First Responders Support Team (FRST)
First Responders Support Team (FRST) is a collective of specialty trained and culturally competent mental health providers who have dedicated themselves to working with first responders and their families. Each member of the team is a fully licensed mental health practitioner who has dedicated themselves to be specially trained to work with first responders. Together, this team of clinicians has a collective of over 100 years’ experience working with first responders.
For more information regarding FRST, contact the team at FRST@firstrespondersomaha.org or call 402-218-1218.
Programs Available for First Responders (all services are confidential):
Stronger Together is a 4 hour workshop designed to mitigate the effects of stress and trauma upon first responders and their families. This is accomplished by helping plan post critical incident recovery, healing and restoring of resiliency. This workshop focuses on a proactive approach to trauma care. By learning to recognize the effects of trauma personally and how it affects families, first responders increase their ability to successfully recover from traumatic incidents in a shorter period. This workshop is designed to minimize the impact trauma has on families, keeps families intact, extends careers, and save lives. This workshop is held quarterly and is free to any first responder, their life partner, family member or friend.
A group specifically focused on supporting first responders recovering form trauma or addiction. These clinician led groups are open to only first responders. The groups are considered open groups meaning that individuals can come and attend group when support is needed or as the shift work allows. The support group meetings twice weekly with two locations, Omaha and Lincoln. Both are available for first responders to attend, regardless of where one lives. These groups are free, confidential and available to all first responders. No referrals needed. Please contact or call FRST for exact dates, times and locations.
JFU – Peer Support Meetings
Peer Support Meetings are an hour long once to twice a month. Please check calendar for exact dates. Meetings are open to all first responders in the community who are looking for support. No referral needed. These supportive, confidential meetings are led by trained peers. These trained peers are committed to managing the stress of the job in a healthy way and supporting others in their stress management. Meetings are designed to offer a supportive environment where first responders can openly share about their struggles. Clinicians are consulted as needed to support group needs.
Sessions are 45 – 60 minutes long, designed for any group of first responders (units, crews, high risk units and specialized units, etc.) and any group of spouses or significant others. The sessions encourage participants to explore leading issues or challenges in their work or life. Participates are provided, critical, evidence based tools that help encourage, healthy, self-care practices. Sessions help build endurance (emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually) when experiencing the effects of the first responder life.
Referrals and Resources:
Mental Health Services
When requested, referrals can be provided for professional therapy. All referrals are confidential and can be provided for first responders, spouses, couples or children. All referrals are towards preferred therapists that are culturally competent in working with first responders. Preferred providers often specialize in grief, depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, substance use, single and couples therapy. Therapists accept various insurances, accept cash pay and some may do sliding fee scale.
West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat (WCPR)
FRST works closely with WCPR to help connect first responders with WCPR and beginning the registration process. The WCPR program is for first responders whose lives have been affected by their work experience. WCPR is one of only two residential treatment facilities of its kind in the world. The other program is the On-Site Academy in Massachusetts. The WCPR residential program provides an educational experience designed to help current and retired first responders, recognize the signs and symptoms of work-related stress including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in themselves and in others. FRSN prefers to identify PTSD as a post-traumatic stress injury. This retreat is a 6 day retreat held at various locations and various times a year.
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
The Nebraska CISM team is available to response when crisis intervention is needed for first responders such as peer to peer intervention, crisis management briefings, defusing, or debriefings. Contact CISM for services at: 402-479-4921.
Key Team Members
Director, First Responder Support Team