SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Law enforcement officers enter dangerous situations every day when doing their jobs. An advocate for first responder mental health said any tragic incident takes a toll on first responders everywhere.
Director of the Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness Steven Click said when an officer dies in the line of duty, it affects the mental well-being of not only everyone who belongs to that department, but all agencies involved in the response and first responders everywhere.
“One of the things we say from the very outset is, you know, you don’t know what the day’s going to bring and you need to be prepared for the circumstances,” Click said.
Click said preparedness for unexpected situations starts with training.
“So that when they go out there and they’re faced with these situations, that they can fall back on that training,” Click said.
If and when a tragedy happens, like the deadly shooting of Clark County Deputy Matthew Yates, Click said his office is there to connect law enforcement agencies with the mental health help they need.
“We want to make sure, if they need anything, that we’re making those connections for them, reaching out to those individuals, for them, we were able to make sure that peer support was available on Sunday,” Click said.
Click said the Clark County Sheriff’s Office acted right away to bring in peer support along with critical incident and stress management teams to help its staff.
Click said his office will work with the agencies to find peer support, connect them with local mental health boards, critical incident response and whatever other needs a first responder may face.
“You don’t get over a situation like this. Nobody who was working on Sunday will get over this. But we do want to make sure that we can help them get past, get through, get beyond.”
The Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness sees the impact their jobs have on first responders, and each individual has a unique response when tragedy occurs. Click said his office is there whenever they need it.
“Please don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed. Please don’t wait until you feel like I’m in trouble before you reach out for help,” Click said.”
Click said his office is working with agencies to be proactive toward mental health, including by designating American Rescue Plan Act funds to build and bolster mental health partnerships within agencies.