Mental health a top priority in Farmington after Monday's deadly explosion

FARMINGTON, Maine (WABI) - Monday's explosion at the LEAP building in Farmington could have been much worse if not for the quick action of LEAP employee Larry Lord and first responders.

Though many of those involved aren't harmed physically, the same can't be said for their mental well being.

Grief, guilt, fear, relief. These are just some of the many emotions first responders and those affected by Monday's tragic incident are feeling.

Those emotions can be hard to process, but officials want everyone involved to know, there's help.

Jack Peck, Farmington Chief of Police says, "It's still very raw right now. We lost a brother. I've been the Police Chief for 30 years, and I've never been through anything quite like this."

First responders answer the call no matter how dangerous the situation, living in a culture that once taught them to suppress all their emotions.

After alarming statistics recently released showed the amount of suicides among first responders, that culture is drastically shifting.

Peck says, "Incidents like this can put people in a dark place, and that's why we really recommend people that are affected talk to somebody."

Gerry Pineau, Firefighter/Paramedic says, "We don't go home alone. We don't bear it. We make sure we talk to people. It is healthy to have counselors. It's healthy to step up and say this bothers me.

First responders past and present can be triggered mentally after an incident like Monday's explosion.

Mental Health Clinicians at Tri-Valley Mental Health have been on call 24 hours a day, making themselves available for first responders past and present, hospital staff, and citizens, all of whom could experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pineau says, "What we want to make sure is that everyone realizes the doors are open, the phones are on, everyone is welcome here that needs anything when it comes to mental health."

Firefighters from departments across the state have been stepping up to fill in and help their brothers and sisters at Farmington Fire.

Peck says, "It has been overwhelming to see the support that has come in from the entire state of Maine."

Pineau says, "All the fire departments have stepped up and called and said we will come, we will come. So, it's all on a schedule. It's very professionally done. It's tracked. Instead of us all going where our emblem is on our chest, we are all coming to Farmington and making sure that this is where we work today.">

Firefighters we spoke with say, "We are all firefighters, no matter what patch we wear on our shoulder, we will protect and serve those who need it."

There is so much hope and support surrounding the Farmington community during this tragedy.

We just want to let folks know if you or someone you know is suffering, you can reach out for help at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

That line is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.