New program helps emergency responders with stress management

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Emergency crews and law enforcement never know what they will see on any given work day.

From fires, to crashes, to water rescues; the ones who keep us safe deal with many types of tragedy.

The Peer Support Team is a new program started in Eau Claire within the last year that focuses on the mental health of emergency personnel and law enforcement.

After a major critical incident or significant event, we have critical event stress debriefing, said Eau Claire Police Department officer Bridget Coit.

It may be a slow day or it may be a day full of traumatic events.

It could be things like large scale fires, crashes, or prolonged rescues. Things of that nature, said Allyn Bertrang, Eau Claire Fire Rescue Deputy Chief.

That’s the hard thing about being an officer, especially being a patrol officer, is sometimes you’re going call to call to call to call, said Coit.

A new program implemented by Eau Claire Fire Rescue and ECPD has helped alleviate the stress caused by these events.

‘It has been found within the fire service that having these programs in place, having peer support programs, defusings and debriefs make a significant difference to the overall health for personnel, said Bertrang.

For EMS, firefighters and police officers, the new program will give them the ability to get help whenever they need it.

Officers are able to reach out to members of the peer support team on or off duty, day or night anytime that they need to talk with them, said Coit.

The severity of an event affects each person involved differently.

Emergency service personnel face a lot of different incidences on a daily basis. What might be considered a difficult or significant incident for one person may not be to somebody else, said Bertrang.

With that in mind, Eau Claire Fire Rescue and ECPD recognize the importance of helping those who serve the community.

“In order to take care of others and the community, we need to take care of ourselves,” said Coit.

Both Deputy Chief Bertrang and Officer Coit say the program has already been beneficial for their departments and the overall mental health of fire rescue, EMS and ECPD

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