SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – Being a police officer or firefighter is not an easy job, so the Brookings Police and Fire Departments have launched a customized wellness program for their employees to address any mental health crisis that may arise. . .
“We have a job where we see extraordinary things every day that 99% of the population will never see. It’s forgotten that this stuff affects us,” said Lt. Joe Fishbaugher with the Brookings Police Department.
Cordico’s health app now provides assistance to first responders in Brookings 24/7, all with the click of a button.
“Instead of being contacted the next day or two or three days later, they can help right now,” Brookings Fire Chief Pete Bolzer said.
“If you have a bad scene at work, and you leave that scene, and you struggle like I did. You can just sit in your squad car and just click there and talk to a therapist,” Fishbaugher said.
Along with instant access to a therapist or suicide crisis hotline, the app also provides physical health advice.
“I know a lot of first responders have trouble sleeping, which is a big deal because that’s when a lot of the flashbacks come back from what you see,” Fishbaugher said.
“I’ve been trying yoga myself, and it’s helped my flexibility, and it’s helped me relax, and I think it’s helped my sleep, too,” Pete Bolzer said.
The same tools available to first responders are also available to their family members.
“I feel like it’s an important part of a first responder’s mental well-being to support their families,” Pete Bolzer said.
Wards already offer peer support and stress management teams, but this program is just another tool to deal with any mental health problem.
“I lost a friend myself a few years ago in an accident that we were called to, if this program had been available at the time I think I would have definitely used it,” said Officer Nick Oines.
“We have to take care of our people, if you take care of our people, our people can take better care of the community they serve,” Fishbaugher said.
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