Emergency responders gather to learn healthy PTSD coping skills

BRADFORD, Maine (WABI) - Firefighters, police, or paramedics...They never know what a given day will bring.

There are occasions when the things they encounter can have a lasting impact.

The goal of a class held Tuesday night was to get them more comfortable with talking about it.

Emily Genever is a mental health clinician.

A former emergency responder, she says her passion is helping people in those fields cope with post traumatic stress.

She was invited by Bradford's fire chief to speak to a group from departments all over the region about healthy and unhealthy coping skills.

"It's all about the stigma," said Genever. "Thinking about what it means when you are struggling with a mental health issue. It doesn't mean that you are weak or that you can't do your job well. It just means that you have an injury that needs to be fixed. It doesn't say who you are as a person, it just says that you are human and you suffered an injury."

"Getting people to talk is the biggest thing," said Bradford Fire Chief Dusty Kelley. "We all say after a bad call, if you need anything call me. But we never do. I don't reach out and call anybody and people don't reach out and call me. We need to get rid of that stigma and get firefighters talking about it."

Kelley said he himself has struggled with these issues in the past.
After a firefighter he was close with took his own life last year, he knew he needed to start working to help others.

He says anyone looking for help is welcome to reach out to him at the Bradford Fire Department.