As attitudes continue to evolve around mental health and dealing with trauma, first responders are being offered several new tools to help them cope with the many demands of their jobs. In this episode of Upstate Issues, Diane Donato talks with Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple about new approaches to help all first responder agencies in New York State recover from the stresses of their jobs. Apple speaks candidly about how witnessing traumatic situations leaves a mark and he speaks about his desire to do more to help after having known of suicides within the ranks.
A joint effort with the New York State Sheriffs’ Association and FirstNet, built with AT&T provides professional employee trainings and Employee Assistance Programs. It also includes a Public Service Announcement campaign titled “It’s Ok to not be OK,” and a confidential peer-to-peer hotline available to all Sheriff Office employees statewide. Sheriff Apple points out that the deputies know that they can use the peer-to-peer hotline to connect with officers outside their own department, a distinction that may make them more likely to open up. He also talks about current struggles with recruitment and retainment, issues he hopes will improve with a greater emphasis on wellness.
Photos provided by First Net, Built with AT&T