ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Happening this weekend, Mayor Richard Berry is shedding light on first responders and their families from across the city. He’s proclaimed July 30th as First Responder Family Appreciation Day.
It’s a day to recognize those first on the scene of emergency situations, and the families who can sometimes be effected.
In celebration, the group “Behind the Badge NM” which offers counseling and other support services, will be hosting an appreciation event at The Craftroom on Saturday at 5 p.m.
They hope to eventually start raising money that will help current responders and their families, as well as retired veterans.
“Once we are retired, the stuff that we see in our job doesn’t go away unless you are able to get help to do that,” said Laurianna Sargent, peer supporter for Behind the Badge NM.
First responders see and go through things that many of us will never experience in our lives. This can cause stress, trauma, or even PTSD.
That’s why Behind the Badge NM wants to help first responders and their families cope with these issues.
“The stress that they are under is on a continuum. The worse case being the trauma that they experience. The least case being the difficult people they deal with in the public,” says Mary Baca, organizer of Behind the Badge NM.
Leaders of Behind the Badge NM have seen firsthand the challenges and stresses that come with their jobs. They say this can often lead health conditions, substance abuse and relationship problems.
They’ve developed a team of first responders to provide counseling and other ancillary services to other first responders in need.
Behind the Badge NM started as a peer support team, but that quickly turned into the group offering training for other first responders to be able to provide healing and coping services.
“When they go out and train, they are able to take the horrific things that they go through or even the stressful things that they go through, and use them in a positive way by educating the public,” says Baca.
Baca wanted to have first responders work with other first responders because only they understand the hardships they face on a daily basis.
Aside from her own counseling service company, she’s enlisted the help of other organizations in Albuquerque, like Walsh Counseling.
The training sessions will start in August.
Sargent has seen her fair share of trauma as a firefighter, and will be serving as one of those peer supporters helping with the training.
“As first responders we aren’t always open to thinking we need help. This is a good opportunity to make people aware that it’s okay to get help also that not everybody can do these things on our own from coping and processing everything that we do,” said Sargent.