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Group forming to provide support to first responders

Post traumatic stress disorder is most commonly associated with those who serve in the military. However, according to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, firefighters and those in the emergency medical services field also suffer from PTSD. And the number of persons in these professions who commit suicide appears to be on the rise.
That’s why Missy McKim and Jim Mayfield are forming a support group called Responding for First Responders.
‘This has been a long endeavor,’ said Mayfield, who has 12 years experience in firefighting and EMS. ‘We didn’t want to go into it haphazardly.’
McKim, who has been involved in EMS since 2008 and is married to a firefighter, said the goal is to educate other about the warning signs and help those who may be struggling with PTSD.
They both are aware that many first responders tend to hide their true emotions to what they see and experience. McKim said one in 10 emergency services workers (firefighters, police, EMS, corrections officers and dispatch) will develop PTSD at some point during their career.
The two told of the recent standoff involving a Jeffersonville police officer who had been off work for several months due to ‘mental issues’ who said he had no intentions of hurting anyone but himself but was tired of his PTSD. The standoff was resolved without anyone getting hurt.
The key to channeling away PTSD is to get help to those who may be suffering from acute stress syndrome within 30 days after their experience.
Mayfield and McKim are forming a core group who can offer support.
‘We wanted to be able to have different resources, not a place to find God,’ said Mayfield, who also is a pastor at First Capital Christian Church in Corydon. ‘We’ll answer their questions regardless of their belief or denomination.’
McKim added that spouses and children of first responders also are welcome to receive assistance.
‘Secondary spousal PTSD is real and will also be addressed,’ including how to live with someone with PTSD, anxiety, etc., she said.
To be part of the support group, a person must be at least 25 years old, have a minimum of 25 years experience in emergency services, be respectful and trustworthy and have no personal issues. They will meet once a month.
Then, to help build relationships with firefighters, EMS workers, law enforcement officers and dispatchers, monthly gatherings will be planned.
‘It’s about developing relationships,’ Mayfield said.
McKim said, ‘In order to keep our community safe, we have to keep our first responders safe.’
A kick-off event, a Blessing of the Badge ceremony, is planned for Saturday, June 25. Details will be announced as they become available.
In the meantime, the community is invited to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month, which is May, by wearing green and yellow to show support for behavior health awareness.
On Friday, May 20, at 9 p.m., fire and EMS organizations are asked to place one of their rigs in their driveway and turn on its emergency lights for one minute to show support for families that have suffered a loss. Residents can join departments during this time or stand in their own driveway with a lit candle.
Those interested in learning more about being part of the support group are encouraged to attend a meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Corydon.
For more information, call Mayfield at 1-502-243-7352 or by email at [email protected] or McKim at 812-734-5927 or by email at [email protected]

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