Whenever there is a national tragedy, such as the devastating massacre that occurred just last week in Las Vegas, a well-known quote from a childhood inspiration pops up throughout social media. The quote is from Fred Rogers, of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, the PBS show that ran from the 1960s through 2001. When talking about children dealing with tragic events in the news, Rogers says, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.”
This statement holds true. From Columbine to 9/11 to the Boston Marathon and more, brave men and women selflessly run into the middle of danger to help others. The same mindset holds true for natural disasters as well. From raging wildfires in the Pacific Northwest to debilitating hurricanes in the south, cities from all over the country are sending their first responders and resources to help those in need.
The main point of “Look for the helpers” is to remind children and adults alike that no matter how much evil there is in the world, you will always find good people who help.
So, what happens to the helpers after the traumatic event is over?
Often times, if they are a first responder, they are expected to quietly go back to their old routines. Many people – even some first responders themselves – believe that witnessing traumatic incidents is just another day on the job. However, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and events where innocent people and children lose their lives isn’t “another day on the job.” These are significant moments in the lives of first responders and it is important to treat them as such. Even small events that don’t make the news can have lasting impacts on those involved.
Helping The Helpers Means Changing The Narrative
If you are a police chief, sheriff, fire chief or another leader, create a narrative within your department that encourages seeking help. If you never bring it up, you might have an entire department thinking, “I don’t want to be the one who needs therapy, so I’m just going to pretend I’m fine.” If you use your position as a leader to bring your department together and encourage them to seek help and provide opportunities for help, they will be better off because of it. When you create a support system for the first responders, they are more likely to go home at the end of the day with positive coping strategies and avoid bad habits to cope.
Peer Support Central offers critical incident stress management training and peer support specialists to help first responders cope with the daily experiences of their jobs and prepare them mentally for traumatic events. Peer support programs offer counseling and training by people who share the same life experiences as you and your team. Studies have shown that first responders – paramedics, firefighters, police, and others – are at a greater risk of developing PTSD, depression, and suicidal tendencies than other professions. Many of those who experience these things do not seek help because there isn’t a narrative in their workplace that encourages them to seek help.
We want to change that. Our peer support specialists share life experiences with first responders and can provide anything from a listening ear to healthy coping strategies to support for families of first responders. Enroll in our peer support program for first responders today and help change the narrative.