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National First Responders Day: Hall Ambulance offers 24-hour mental health help to employees

The Bakersfield Californian - 10/31/2022

Oct. 28—At the drop of a hat, a first responder could recall several details of an incident — the location of the call, the clothing a victim was wearing, a smell, the treatment provided and more.

The incident could have been 20 years ago, but that paramedic or emergency medical technician could still suffer from the trauma of a particular incident, said Sunny Mueller, a licensed clinical professional counselor who has partnered with Hall Ambulance to provide its employees with mental health services.

Hall Ambulance paramedics have access to mental health professionals to help them cope with difficult calls via the employee assistance program. It offers counselors, like Mueller, who are available 24 hours a day, said Jenny Ramirez, the director of human resources at Hall Ambulance.

"The human body, human psyche, isn't really built for dealing with those types of traumas, over and over and over," Mueller said. "This is a role that we as humans have created in our society."

Trauma could impact a first responder in different ways, and at different times. A person could encounter a dire situation and it could still affect them six months later, Ramirez said. Hall Ambulance doesn't cap how many times its first responders can talk to a counselor, she added.

But talking to a mental health professional is not the only method Hall Ambulance offers, Ramirez said. People such as Mueller can reach out to a first responder and work with them to find other helpful alternatives.

The employee assistance program is also available to families.

Mueller said many paramedics may avoid telling their family about their struggles because they want to protect their families from these heavy incidents. But then the first responder may start to withdraw from their family because they are suffering.


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