How do first responders cope with horrific images they see? - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

How do first responders cope with horrific images they see?

We've seen the sorrow in Connecticut and heard the stories from survivors, but there are others hurting. The many first responders who will now live with the horrific images they have seen. 

So how do they cope after seeing what most of us can only imagine? 

The first responders in Vanderburgh County that 14 News talked with on Monday say special training and being there for each other prepares them for helping others in tough times.

"Until it happens to you, until you're faced with dealing with it, you can only assume that I'm ready to take that on or I'm ready to deal with it," Vanderbugh County Sheriff Eric Williams said.

Sheriff Williams says there are certain images first responders can't forget.

"Significant car crashes, those can be very difficult. I've been on a few crime scenes which were very problematic and they flash back in your mind," Sheriff Williams said.

That's why local first responders say, sometimes, it's important to seek outside help.  Sheriff Williams tells 14 News the sheriff's office offers employee assistance programs, has internal crisis counselors, and counselors in the community, ready to help deputies when needed.  

"Seems like when you think you've seen the worst thing you've seen or that you'll ever see, something else somewhere will come up," said Capt. Cindy Gries, the Public Information Officer with German Township Fire Department. 

Captain Gries says German Township Fire Department offers similar services to their first responders. She says after an especially traumatic event, the department will hold a "critical incident stress debriefing," a confidential meeting where firefighters can share what's on their minds with each other.

"They can express what they saw, how they felt, and how they feel now," Capt. Gries said.

Sheriff Williams says, sometimes, sharing those experiences with others can be the best medicine.

"We can't be any help to you if we can't take care of ourselves," Sheriff Williams said.

First responders 14 News talked with say it's important that they have those steps in place for counseling and healing, so they can always be ready to help others.

Copyright 2012 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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