Mental health professional train alongside first responders

It's not always easy to relate to something you'e never been through. That's why members of one mental health program are getting their hands dirty.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:14 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Nearly three dozen medical health professionals from across the panhandle are in South Walton for the Clinician Awareness Program.

The two-day course is designed for clinicians and healthcare providers who are interested in familiarizing themselves with the unique firefighter culture in order to be more effective in treating firefighters.

Clinicians participate in a hands-on scenario-based training event where there can experience what it is like to experience an extrication, Cardiovascular resuscitation and search and rescue efforts.

Dr. Kellie O’dare is the founder and director of 2nd Alarm Project. She says the training is essential in understanding everyday challenges of first responders.

“When you’re working with first responders building that trust and building that rapport is very important and this is the first step to effectively do that,” O’dare said.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors Teresa Hess says the training was very beneficial to her.

“We all see the fire trucks go by and knowing that they are going through these traumatic events knowing that they need that extra help from the community and our community resources, our mental health counselors our clinical social workers and just being aware and giving that grace,” said Hess. “It’s helpers needing help and being able to give that support.”

This training is comprised of both classroom and live scenarios.

According to organizers, the last time the training was held in the panhandle was in October of 2021. The event also took place in Orlando and Miami earlier this month. The goal is to provide the course at least six times a year.