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Conference hopes to increase awareness on mental health and wellness of first responders

EMS medics from the Houston Fire Department prepare to transport a 2-year-old girl to a hospital on Aug. 25.
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EMS medics from the Houston Fire Department prepare to transport a 2-year-old girl to a hospital on Aug. 25.

First responders will soon be gathering in Casper for the first-ever First Responder Health and Wellness Conference.

The conference, which will run from August 22-24 in Casper will offer police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel and dispatchers, workshops and training on proper sleep, mental health, recognizing symptoms when people start to struggle and intervention methods.

The Wyoming Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) office is leading the conference after the state legislature allocated money for first responders mental health.

POST executive director Chris Walsh said this has been needed for a while.

“But probably the prompting event was some recent first responder suicides that have happened in the state. And I think that kind of kicked in,” said Walsh.

He said most first responders already get mental health training within their own departments but hopefully this statewide recognition will place more attention on the problem. Especially at a time when departments are struggling to hire enough people.

“That means that those officers and those firefighters and those EMTs are all working harder than you normally would be, harder than they should be,” he said. “Really with no end in sight. So you know, a difficult situation on top of kind of no light at the end of the tunnel. It becomes pretty depressing.”

In addition to reporting daily on the happenings in Northwest Wyoming, Kamila is also the producer of the Kids Ask WhY Podcast and the History Unloaded Podcast.Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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