Omaha police and firefighters say the homicides and fatal accidents they encounter on the job can stay with them for months or even years afterward, reports the city’s World-Herald. In response the local fire department has created a new peer support program, which offers confidential counseling to firefighters and paramedics who respond to violent or traumatic events. The police department began offering a similar program in 2013.
The roughly 30 police and 15 firefighter peer counselors have undergone at least 40 hours of training by national law enforcement and firefighter behavioral experts. The peer counselors are available after an incident — or anytime an officer or firefighter is having personal struggles — to offer support and advice. They also can connect a colleague to the city's employee assistance program if additional counseling is needed. “They need to know, 'I'm not alone,' ” said Mikki Frost, the city's human resources director.