While family and friends are coping with this tragedy, many first responders are coping with what they had to see when they arrived on the scene Friday afternoon. That’s why the city offers a counseling service to police and firefighters in need of assistance.
For firefighters and first responders, maintaining optimum mental health is a critical part of remaining effective on the job. Some first responders compared the scene of Friday’s deadly accident on West 12th and Cherry to the aftermath of a plane crash, or an explosion.
With the risks they face in the line of duty, some experience a variety of issues: anxiety, depression, or post traumatic stress. A critical incident program is offered by the city of Erie where a licensed counselor will meet with an individual or those involved as a team on a specific incident. The Erie Fire Department is also in the process of starting a peer support group, where the counselors are also firefighters. There are two counselors in the department and they plan to train other members of the crew, so anyone can get the help they need while on the job.
Fire Chief, Guy Santone tells us, “we see a lot of things that the average person wouldn’t want to see, and that is part of the job and I am proud of our firefighters they go in and do the job and they are done, but like I said they are all human beings and what happens after the fact, I want to make sure they are taken care of.”
It’s common for people to experience some distress in response to a traumatic event, it typically subsides. It’s when the problem persists, that’s when these programs come in handy.