Peer to Peer Counseling Program Helps First Responders Deal with PTSD

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - The shooting in Parkland, Florida has sparked many different conversations.

One discussion focusing on how incidents like this one will haunt the first responders who worked the scene forever, but there is help for our heroes when it comes to managing these heartbreaking scenes. 

"We're supposed to be the heroes, but who saves us when we need saving? That's what our team is about," said Panama City Beach Fire Captain, Terry Parris. The critical incident stress management team, also known as CISM, has been in existence in Bay County for almost 5 years now. 
The peer to peer counseling program helps first responders with personal issues, but mainly PTSD from traumatic scenes on the job. In an editorial released by Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, he touches on the importance of first responders needing help in the wake of tragedies.
"There are several types of victims. There's the fatal ones, and then there's the ones that were injured physically and then there's the ones that were injured mentally and emotionally and they can be civilians, but a lot of times, it's also the first responder," said Parris. 

Local law enforcement weighing in on how the school shooting is affecting officers in South Florida. "If we go through that type of incident, it requires immediate intervention because the effects can be devastating," said Bay Co. Sheriff, Tommy Ford. 

The CISM team is here to help rescue those who normally do the rescuing. "Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, it's actually a sign of strength," said Parris. 
Last year alone, the CISM team made 276 points of contact with first responders all over Bay County-- making a difference in their lives and help them through their tough times. 

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