Taking Care of Those Who Care in Cumberland County, PA (S2E4)

They are the first to rush in but the last to get help. Their normal day is usually someone’s worst day. First responders undergo stress and trauma most people can’t begin to understand. In Cumberland County, PA a new program is supporting these folks with dealing with the stress most first responders typically just try to bury.

For more information visit On the Job and Off presents Over a Cup Podcast.

Additional information can be found at:

On the Job and Off

On the Job and Off’s First Responder Assistance Program (FRAP)

Show Sponsors:

Taking Care of Those Who Care in Cumberland County, PA (S2E4) Transcription

David Martin: This is the good government show.

Gary Eichelberger: It’s an investment for the future. So other other folks need to be paying attention to this, even though maybe historically it wasn’t an issue or they didn’t have to how to think about it. We need to ensure the overall health and well-being, mental and emotional as well as physical for the folks we count on to support our community in emergencies.

Carol D’Auria: Well, this sound usually means one thing. A first responder is on the job, a police officer or maybe a firefighter or an EMT rushing to an emergency to help someone. But think about the first responders. Sometimes they need help, too. Sometimes they need a lot of help. I’m Carol D’Auria.

David Martin: And I’m Dave Martin. Welcome to the good government show. If you like us, tell your friends to listen to. Please make sure to follow us and please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. And please, rate is where you listen to us. This will help us bring you more stories of good government and action like this one.

Carol D’Auria: So, David, do you know anyone who was a first responder?

David Martin: I do. My cousin, he’s a retired cop. His dad, my uncle, he was a cop. And of course, there’s all the cops and firefighters and EMS workers and others I met during my many, many years as a news reporter. Some of them are true heroes, for sure.

Carol D’Auria: And I know some, too. My father and my two brothers were New York City firefighters. So were my two uncles. I have two cousins. The whole family, to me, they’re a different breed of humans, though they rush toward trouble like a burning building when everyone else is running away from it. And they are usually people who are pretty calm, under pressure, quick thinking, and to a certain degree tough, thick skinned.

David Martin: At this point, I think we really should hear from first responder because that’s really get into the heart of this story quickly.

Carol D’Auria: Yes. I want you to hear from a fellow named Jeff Gardner. He is a firefighter in Loudon County, Virginia. That’s a Washington, D.C. suburb.

David Martin: Well, it’s a pretty busy place.

Carol D’Auria: And yes, and while Jeff works in Virginia, he actually lives in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and he’s received great support when he went through his own personal trauma. Here’s Jeff.

Jeff Gardner: You’re going and meeting somebody in what they would classify as their worst day. They want you to fix their worst day. So, you know, if you’re running a fire, you’re pulling up and you’re seeing that person, you know, dream going up and wait so that, you know, from the fire side that that or, you know, you run that crash and you’re saying, you know, that person, you know, severely injured or in the worst case, you know laying there, you know, dead.

At the scene there might be family members that are there and they’re witnessing it as well. So you’re not only dealing with the trauma of seeing that person, but you’re dealing with the trauma of the family, witnessing it as well. And that goes for EMS calls called, you know, you’re on a cardiac arrest or something like that. You know, the family members are there.

Carol D’Auria: And usually very emotional.

Jeff Gardner: Yeah, very, very much so. You know, where they you know, again, you’re a fix or you’re supposed to fix this and can’t. You know, there’s nothing you can do about it.

David Martin: Wow. That is a tough job. I don’t know that I could do that kind of job.

Carol D’Auria: No, it really is tough.

David Martin: You’re telling you need that. You need you really do need to be a special breed. That’s a special kind of person.

Carol D’Auria: And you know what? My dad never talked about it. There was only one time when I said, Oh, I was hoping it would snow. I was a little kid. And he said to me, Well, Danny doesn’t like it when it snows, because if I have to go up on the roof of a building to put out a fire, I could slip off the roof and get hurt. And I said.

David Martin: Oh, no.

Carol D’Auria: I never wanted it to snow again.

David Martin: That’s terrible.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah.

David Martin: He talk about the job. Did he talk about it?

Carol D’Auria: No, he never did. He never did. But but I have to say, there were many times when I saw him and and even my two brothers did come home from work just looking like they had gotten beaten up. Because, you know, when you’re in a fire, you have a heavy workout. Coat is a raincoat. Heavy?

David Martin: You know, your bunker gear and it’s heavy equipment to climb.

Carol D’Auria: In and it’s hot. Yeah. And and they really go through a lot. It affects your breathing. It does a number on you.

David Martin: Do you talk to your brothers about the job now? Are they still on?

Carol D’Auria: No, they’re both retired. One doesn’t miss it and the other one misses at whole lot.

David Martin: Really? One doesn’t miss it and one misses it.

Carol D’Auria: Yes, yes. That’s how it is.

David Martin: Does your dad miss it after he stepped out?

Carol D’Auria: A little bit? He like the camaraderie, right? You know, and.

David Martin: There’s a whole community of guys that all.

Carol D’Auria: Yeah. .

David Martin: They work together, they eat together, they play together.

Carol D’Auria: And my dad was a great cook.

David Martin: Oh, really? He was the guy at the firehouse who made dinner for everybody. All right. Well, you know, one of the challenges is, like you said, it’s not just the firefighter, but it’s the firefighters family that sort of has to, you know, feel the repercussions of the job. Right.

Carol D’Auria: Right. You never want to get that phone call that something went wrong.

David Martin: No. But there’s there’s that whole support system. There’s whole that whole community that you you really have to be a part of.

Carol D’Auria: Yes. Yes, absolutely. So let’s meet one of the problems solvers of this story. Ali Rothrock has been a first responder since she was about 16 years old. And listen to what she dealt with her very first day on the job.

Ali Rothrock: My very first fire call that I ever ran as a 16 year old was a fatal car accident or a five year old girl was killed. And so I saw from the very, very beginning the lack of resources that there were for us, specifically tailored to us. And as I continue to be a firefighter, I became an EMT, continue to roll calls over all those years, and continue to see that same pattern that first responders were really being left to their own devices to cope with the stress and stressors that we deal with. And I realized that I could do something about that, and that is how I started on the job enough in 2008.

David Martin: Wow. That is a really hard way to start a career. I mean, a 16 year old seeing a child die. I mean, how does a 16 year old deal with that? What does she do?

Carol D’Auria: Well, like she said, she was really on her own. There was no help at that time. There was no one to talk to. And so it becomes like a child trying to help a child. And now add to the stress of seeing that tragedy. There are lots of other things that create stress that you and I might not be aware of.

Ali Rothrock: We have constant sleep disruption. We have unpredictable time away from our families. We are constantly dealing with adrenaline spectrum from going on calls and calls. We get canceled. There’s so much that impacts us, let alone the actual content of the job description that we signed up to do, which involved seeing all different types of traumatic events so that we can help have a positive outcome and some that we can’t.

So first responders really have a lot of stress and stressors that they deal with constantly. And then you add a long pandemic to it. First responders are definitely dealing with a lot.

Carol D’Auria: So she knows firsthand what first responders go through. And she’s actually written two books about it. One is called Where Hope Lives and the other is called After Trauma. And as she said a minute ago, her company is an online company that provides help to first responders.

David Martin: Well, I think we can all see the challenges here.

Carol D’Auria: Well, we think we do. But really, David, we don’t. I mean, we talk to people. But the real issues, the real challenges to supporting all of our first responders is a serious problem. And it really needs long term coordinated programs to really help and be effective.

David Martin: We’ll get to those stories coming up after the break. First, a word from our sponsor, the National Association of Counties. The Good Government Show welcomes a new sponsor for season two, and that’s NACO. And that’s the National Association of Counties. Carol, did you know that county government affects more people than any other form of government?

Carol D’Auria: Well, I do now. Funny you would think city or the federal government is bigger.

David Martin: Well, right, but. But it’s not. You’d think about this. Roads, highways, hospitals, schools, recycling, law enforcement, water, sewers: in most of the country, those services are maintained by the county. That’s county government.

Carol D’Auria: And we want to see good county government. And that’s where Naco comes in.

David Martin: Exactly. They’re a nationwide organization that represents all 3,069 counties across the U.S..

Carol D’Auria: Now, that’s a lot of support and more importantly, brain power.

David Martin: Exactly. And they have many organizations and committees and they do things like share best practices and they work together on national issues.

Carol D’Auria: And they are urban, suburban and rural counties that have different challenges. But they can still work together.

David Martin: Yes, they all work together. So NACO helps county government work better. And as we see in this and other episodes, when county government works well, that’s just good government.

Carol D’Auria: So thanks, NACO, for providing us with great stories and helping support good government.

David Martin: And thanks NACO for supporting the good government. And remember, citizens, don’t forget to vote.

David Martin: Well, luckily, we have some really great examples of how they work to fix this problem. So let’s go back to Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. That’s the home of Jeff Gardner, our firefighter, and Ali Rothrock. It’s in central Pennsylvania. It’s almost halfway between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and there are county that really is leading the way, at least in their state, to create a support system aimed directly at first responders.

Carol D’Auria: So does Cumberland County have more different challenges than any other counties?

David Martin: Well, I spoke to Gary Eichelberger, and he’s the chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. And here’s our story. Fun fact Cumberland County is the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania, and that’s for the past ten years running. It’s a percentage of population growth. But what it means is this is a growing county. And Gary says that the government really needs to expand and to be able to respond well.

Carol D’Auria: And that brings new challenges, right?

David Martin: Of course. And, you know, one of the things he mentioned was the opioid crisis. That’s one of the problems they’re dealing with. But he described his county this way.

Gary Eichelberger: We’ve tried to be a leading county in terms of good government practices. Leading county in Pennsylvania. We’re in the most progressive area either. And I’ve always been. I ran for this office as an advocate for transformative, entrepreneurial government that was very forward looking, but also efficient.

Carol D’Auria: That’s a good strategy to govern by.

David Martin: Well, talking with Gary, you can see that Cumberland is really trying to be an example. They have an eye on the future and they’re being as progressive as they can be. And he said they were lucky. The county is on solid financial ground, so they’re able to fund important projects like this, like.

Carol D’Auria: Supporting a group that doesn’t always get the support it needs.

David Martin: You know, and as I’m sure you’ve heard, too, you know, all first responders, EMS workers, firefighters, cops, this is just not a group that typically asks for help.

Carol D’Auria: Traditionally, that really has been the case. But little by little, that is changing.

David Martin: Right. And this is what Gary noticed when he and other county commissioners realized they needed to do more for this group of people who are essential to providing for the community.

Gary Eichelberger: You know, it had its roots in something we had tried before when we noticed that our folks in the public safety arena tend to be very reluctant to seek out the types of emotional supports and services to promote well-being just because of the culture of the organization as well as, you know, our regional culture as well, very self-reliant.
And so the that that was kind of the genesis of the program itself.

Carol D’Auria: So is Gary our guy who says, I can fix this, I can make it better?

David Martin: Well, Gary would say no, but he was part of the previous county commission that actually started to put this program in place. But Gary has been there from the beginning.

Carol D’Auria: So this was a long process then?

David Martin: Yeah, well, it wasn’t a quick fix. The county had a stress management program that was in place for all county workers, but they realized they needed to do more for this select group of people because these first responders, they had different challenges. For example, many of these first responders, like the EMS workers, these folks are all volunteers. So they had a real need to keep them on the job.

And they have good employment in the region, too.

Carol D’Auria: And part of what makes the area attractive to new residents is good jobs.

David Martin: Right. But so that makes the challenge for the community even harder. They want to keep good workers working for the police, for the fire, and they want to keep them volunteering. They needed to retain those people, the institutional knowledge, the experience. But more importantly, they knew they had to support the people who were the first ones to help out their neighbors in the county.

Gary Eichelberger: We have a significant underserved segment of our population in need of medical health services, so that feeds the incidence and the severity of the incidents. In many cases, suicide is definitely a problem in this area, as it is statewide, and that carries over to the public safety community as well, since they are exposed to that constantly. But we recognize the need early on and certainly recognize that we needed to do it in a different way than how it had been addressed before.

David Martin: Now we’re going to meet Bob Shively. He’s the director of public safety in Cumberland County. He runs the 911 center and the county’s emergency management department. He was also a firefighter. He was a fire chief and he was an EMT. He was part of a group that county officials that studied the problem and created a program named the First Responder Assistance Program.

He recognized right away the challenges with getting the care to the people that needed it most.

Bob Shivley: I think sometimes, you know, it’s not talked about a lot because, you know, it’s mental health and some people don’t want to talk about that. There’s always been a lot with the emergency services about being tough and not wanting to talk about your Shawn weakness when you’re, you know, run calls or run bad calls. So there’s always been that kind of stigma, if you will.

But again, we’ve we wanted to make the program available and available to anyone that needed it regardless.

Carol D’Auria: So a plan is really coming together here, and it seems the county government is definitely on board.

David Martin: They are. And at first, as Gary explained, it wasn’t that easy.

Gary Eichelberger: We actually had to have several meetings and speak very openly about the fact that it’s not a sign of weakness to have to ask for help. And we had a lot of sharing around the table in our first meeting or two about the types of situations that that, you know, would prompt someone to have to reach out a little bit.

And, you know, with those with those folks in public safety, it’s not any one incident particularly. It’s just the gradual accumulation that is.

Carol D’Auria: The real heart of this problem, getting these folks to accept they need help and then following up.

David Martin: Part of the reason this went so well and continues to grow is the new program sprang out of an existing program. And those are the some of the folks you talked to. So what do those folks tell you?

Carol D’Auria: Well, the biggest challenges we both heard in learning about the solution to this very serious problem is the overall stigma of asking for help. No one wants to appear weak, like like they can’t take it. You’ve seen cops who, you know, sometimes they dare each other and being tough, right?

David Martin: Sure. I mean, hey, I got a little freaked out when I was a young reporter. I go up to crime scenes and, you know, the cops are kind of play around with me. And in no way is this the same. But the culture is, you know, you got to be tough.

Carol D’Auria: Right. And the other challenge is that these first responders don’t want to be seen going to the so-called company doctor. They want someone who isn’t part of the structure. I’m going to have you listen to Mike Snyder. He’s a911 dispatcher in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Mike Snyder: What we were finding is a lot of times the people don’t necessarily want to use someone from their agency, especially in things like law enforcement. There’s a feeling of if I reach out for mental health assistance, would there be a situation where my chief may think that I’m unfit for duty and we need to provide a pathway to those folks to be able to get assistance in a confidential and anonymous way in order to keep them healthy and keep them on the street as opposed to keeping everything internalized and burning.

Carol D’Auria: Well, now that you’ve heard from Mike, you should know a little bit more about him. He’s not just a911 dispatcher job. He’s had four or some 30 years. He’s also the head of the Critical Management Stress Team, and he described the stress management team as sort of the gateway to the first responders assistance program.

David Martin: So he’s been involved with this and working with first responders for a long time.

Carol D’Auria: Oh, very long. And he is the person who realized that as helpful as it was, the peer to peer support just wasn’t really enough. And he had a partner. Remember our firefighter, Jeff Gardner?

David Martin: Yeah. This is the guy who explained how every day on the job, a first responder is meeting someone who’s probably having their worst day. And, you know, those days can be good for anybody, right?

Carol D’Auria: Jeff’s wife, Claudia Gardner, works in the Cumberland County Public Safety Office, and she was with Mike and realized they needed to go beyond the peer to peer counseling. They also realized they needed quicker support because sometimes the first responder needs help and they need it now. They can’t wait days or even longer for a return phone call.

David Martin: And, you know, Mike brought up another good point. The Cumberland County program is totally anonymous. In fact, Gary told me there isn’t a lot of paperwork, so the program is totally discreet. He couldn’t even tell me who is using the service.

Carol D’Auria: Well, they aren’t naming names, that’s why.

David Martin: No. Well, I didn’t have to put on my hard news reporter hat, but I you know, I thought he might be able to break it down something like, well, there are five firefighters and four police officers, something like that. But all he could tell me was the program is being used.

Carol D’Auria: But you’re right, this program does keep this completely confidential. It’s an important element. So here’s a little psychology I picked up.

David Martin: Oh, no, your because you saw was Lucy with her second stab. All right. Go ahead. What did you learn?

Carol D’Auria: Well, just what I learned, what other therapists and other clinicians talk about is a person’s bucket or their cup that it fills with emotions. And you don’t want that thing to overflow. So Mike Snyder says talking about their feelings and stress has to become a normal thing to do something that is done regularly, part of a routine so the cup doesn’t runneth over.

Mike Snyder: What we’re trying to change is the expectation now is will share how you truly feel to try to normalize that on a daily basis so that whenever the truly traumatic incidents occur, the normal thing to do would be to share how you feel and let those emotions out so that you’re not filling up your your cup. Basically, if you continue to fill your cup, eventually it’s going to run over.

So you need to have some type of strategy to to be a little bit at a time to continue to serve.

Carol D’Auria: So what Mike Snyder was explaining to me, since this is all, you know, relatively new first responders talking about their feelings, they’re working hard to have the clinicians ready when those first responders are ready to talk.

Mike Snyder: We needed to assign some priority to these types of situations because sometimes the first hurdle is getting the people to ask for help when they need it. So if we get over that first hurdle of, Hey, I do actually need help, then we can’t allow that to go six, eight weeks until someone is available to actually assist that person.

By that point, they may say, You know what, I got past it now I don’t need any help yet. It’s still there in their mind that they’re going to have that trigger in the future. We wanted to make sure that we get that out within the first 48 to 72 hours after they determine that they need help.

David Martin: We’re going to talk more about how this program is working after the break.

Carol D’Auria: The good government show is sponsored by Liquid. Welcome back to season two, Liquid.

David Martin: And we still love Liquid and not just because they are a sponsor again. But Carol, here’s a fun fact. A recent study found that over 80% of retail shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Do you do that?

Carol D’Auria: Well, yeah. You know, I do it when I know what I’m buying. Like, for instance, we needed some bug spray for the backyard. We were having a party, but we have dogs. So I didn’t want anything toxic for the dogs? So I had to run down a lot of products online.

David Martin: So you did your research.

Carol D’Auria: I did.

David Martin: All right. Good. And if you’re in a business, you really have to do your research because you really want to evaluate who you’re working with and making sure the company you are about to partner with, you want to make sure it’s a good fit.

Carol D’Auria: That makes sense. So you want to stand out to other companies that are checking your company out.

David Martin: Exactly. And that’s where Liquid comes in. They can help your business create a digital presence with impact. So you can be impressive to new businesses and keep your customers.

Carol D’Auria: And it’s not just about a website. See how much I’ve learned about Liquid since the first season?

David Martin: You are Liquid-aware, good for you, right. So they can guide you where to advertise, make sure your social media is relevant, and it engages your customers. They want to make sure your digital story answers your potential customers’ questions before they even have to ask them.

Carol D’Auria: And that’s but Liquid is good at: creating a full marketing and online digital presence.

David Martin: Liquid’s been around for nearly two decades. They have a lot of experience and a lot of research to back up their.

Carol D’Auria: Plans and they have a team of designers, marketers, strategists and developers that can help companies in many industries with award winning creative campaigns, content and websites.

David Martin: All good reasons to have Liquid plan your next digital marketing strategy. So check them out and talk to a liquid professional. Visit them at www.liquidint.com, that’s www.liquidint.com.

Carol D’Auria: And you will love Liquid as much as we do.

David Martin: Because they’re our sponsor. We love Liquid.

We want to welcome back as a sponsor to the Good Government Show, Kutztown University of Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Carol D’Auria: And you want to talk about their rugby team?

David Martin: Well, they do have a good rugby team that just won a national tournament. And what I did was I called a friend, his daughter played at Kutztown, she played on the rugby team and asked him what did he like best about Kutztown?

Carol D’Auria: You mean besides the rugby team?

David Martin: Yeah, besides the team, obviously the team first. But he responded immediately and said something I didn’t know. His favorite thing is the chicken tower or it’s also called the Angry Chicken.

Carol D’Auria: What? I hesitate to ask. The Angry Chicken?

David Martin: Well, it’s such a landmark that it’s actually the school’s logo. It’s a clock tower. And apparently when you look from a special angle, the clock looks a little bit like a chicken with an open beak. So it’s the angry chicken.

Carol D’Auria: Okay, then. Well, let’s talk about the other stuff like that their degree program in music business is now nationally accredited. They offer undergraduate certificates in cybersecurity and technical writing.

David Martin: So is this what we do? Is this technical writing?

Carol D’Auria: Oh, no, no, no. Take his class and maybe get better at writing.

David Martin: Oh, come on. That’s not fair. You know what? You would benefit from the new graduate certificate program and be a school social worker. Maybe you’d be nicer.

Carol D’Auria: All right, well, the point is, Kutztown is a forward-looking university. They also offer Pell Promise scholarships. And for students to qualify, student tuitions and fees are all covered.

David Martin: And that’s just some of why we like Kutztown and are happy to be associated with this university. Oh, my friend thought it was really cool that sometimes the locals stay right here in a horse and buggy. So check out Kutztown University. That’s Kutztown University and cheer on the rugby team.

Carol D’Auria: Of course.

David Martin: Yes, please.

So what did Cumberland County turn to to help create this actual program?

Carol D’Auria: Remember Allie Rothrock? Well, she was the first responder since she was 16. She’s also been a volunteer firefighter. And he and this worker now, she’s a counselor and she works directly with the stress and the issues of first responders. She was part of the original stress management team in the county. Her company, which is called On the Job and off, really put together the first responder assistance program.

David Martin: And we should mention Allie is also a podcaster and she’s the host of Over the Cup. And the first season of Over the Cup is out. They’ve got about 23 episodes and the show is all about first responders. She talks to different people about some of the trauma they’ve faced on the job and she talks to people who’ve been through their own crisis.

The goal is by talking over a cup of coffee, a conversation, just a support for first responders or anyone dealing with trauma.

Carol D’Auria: So here is Allie talking about how she got the whole thing started.

Ali Rothrock: Yep. No, on the job. Enough is the company that I started in 2018. We provide online mental health education for first responders, and now we offer additional resources for them through FRAP, which is the first responder assistance program. And gearing up is a course that I wrote. It’s a one day very intense course that is designed to teach people that do not have emergency service experience but want to help those in the emergency services.

It’s designed to give them a really in-depth look at what it takes to become a first responder. So I teach clinicians, chaplains, members of the clergy, sometimes the nurses, people who just want to be able to help first responders. And so any of our clinicians that help first responders through Prep, they all have to be gearing up certified.

Carol D’Auria: And she wanted to make it clear that, you know, talking to someone doesn’t have to be in deep, heavy conversation and you delve into your childhood and your relationship with your mother. You can simply talk about your day.

David Martin: So I guess there’s really lots of ways a caregiver can get help.

Carol D’Auria: Right. Ali is expanding the on the job and off program. She’s training new counselors. So she teaches a training class called Gearing Up is for teachers, maybe chaplains, clinicians, anyone who wants to help and work with first responders. She has other teachers, too, but her goal is simply to keep expanding the program. She’s already providing care for first responders all across the nation.

David Martin: And here’s something I didn’t think about. Part of the program is online, and here’s the hidden benefit. I never considered. It’s completely confidential and tailored to each individual.

Carol D’Auria: And and no one sees you walking in or out of an office.

David Martin: Exactly.

Carol D’Auria: You’re home alone, right? It comes down to how can you help each individual? But it really matters that this is a program you’re just for this specific group, first responders.

David Martin: That’s exactly what Bob Shively said when they asked him about the feedback.

Bob Shivley: Most of the comments we’ve we’ve had is that they like that it’s it’s tailored to the first responder. It’s people that understand the first responder and not necessarily your standard employee assistance program.

Carol D’Auria: It’s early in the program is only about a year old, but it’s already a success.

David Martin: Apparently it is a success. And without taking names because they don’t have them. Right. But about 13 people so far have taken advantage of this service for Gary. He’s gotten some really positive feedback.

Gary Eichelberger: Bob Shively or Ali could provide you with more specific numbers. I know that their reports to us have been very positive. And what we’ve seen the commissioner level, what we’ve seen is a surprising number of expressions of support from the first responder community and how pleased they are that this is available and how valuable they believe it will it will eventually be to the entire community.

They’re still in an adoption phase. It’s relatively new. So but we think that folks have embraced it to a degree that you don’t always have in the in the public safety sector because of the, you know, the cultural aspects and implications of, you know, having to admit to, you know, stresses and challenges to your well-being. So we feel that the early indicators are very, very good.

Carol D’Auria: That’s great feedback. Has the commissioner talked to anyone who has actually been through the program?

David Martin: Well, is the question this way, probably. I’ll let Gary explain it.

Gary Eichelberger: The individuals who contacted us were contacted me, have never stated that they are part of it. They have thanked us for the program. And I have and I have inferred from that that some of them are probably participants. They say, thank you for the program. This is going to be a big thing for our community. And we’re really pleased that the commissioners have recognized the need.

David Martin: But there is one individual that spoke up, one person who went through the first responder assistance program and realized he needed the help as a result. You can say because he does, he got his life back. So I’m going to let Bob speak for this first responder.

Bob Shivley: I was connected with a counselor from on the job and offered a first responder assistance program at a time when I really needed help. My grief included anger, irritability, breakdown and sleeplessness. I wasn’t able to run fire calls or spend time at the firehouse. I know now that reaching out for help does not make you weak. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you don’t know how to handle what you’re going through.

I want other first responders to know that they can ask for help and that the help I got was exactly what I needed.

Carol D’Auria: Wow. Powerful words.

David Martin: Very powerful. But most importantly, an example for every other first responder, they must know that when they’re having trouble, it’s okay to get help.

Carol D’Auria: That’s so true and so important. So Cumberland will continue to fund this program, it sounds like, right?

David Martin: Definitely. It’s part of their core value. And this is a great example of doing the right thing, seeing a challenge and making it part of the fabric of their government’s response to the people. And I’m going to give Bob the last word on the program’s success.

Bob Shivley: You know, the numbers are high, but they’re they continue to increase, which, again, I think bodes well that the people are starting to feel comfortable with the program and the services. So as as the word spreads that the people were able to get the the services they needed and they were able to do it in a secure and anonymous setting.

And they were able to get the help they needed without any ridicule. Then I think we’ll see our numbers increase slightly or, you know, maybe even more. I don’t know. But again, if even if we’ve helped a couple of people, I think it’s it’s been a huge success.

Carol D’Auria: Wow. That is a success.

David Martin: It really is a success. It’s just another example of good government in action. And before we go, if you know anyone who’s a first responder who may be suffering on any level, or if you’re a first responder yourself, you’re not alone. Anyone can call on the job and ask directly and they can help. Their number is 8145747295. That number is 8145747295.
And there’s more good news.

Carol D’Auria: Oh, good. We always want more good news, especially in this area.

David Martin: This summer, a national 988 number went into effect. It’s a national mental health crisis number, and it’s modeled on the 911 system. And it grew out of the National Suicide Hotline. So anyone suffering can call 988, and they’ll be connected with someone that can get them the specific help they need in their area. It’s not a first responder hotline, but it’s one number anyone can dial quickly.

Carol D’Auria: Now, let’s just hope that it has as much success as the old 911 number did.

David Martin: Yes, that number is 988. So I’m Dave Martin. This is the good government show.

Carol D’Auria: And I’m Carol D’Auria This is a good government show. And we’ll see you next time when we tell you another story about government working.

David Martin: Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Thanks for listening. If you like our show, please tell your friends to listen, too. Follow us and like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and be part of the conversation. And please give us a five star rating right here when you’re listening to this podcast. Your support helps us continue to tell stories of good government in action.

For extras on all of our shows, visit our website, goodgovernmentshow.com.

The Good Government Show is produced by Valley Park Productions. Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder are theexecutive producers. Jason Stershic is our producer and editor. Some transcriptions were done by Kofi Ajeasi Ampah. Our hosts are me, David Martin and Carol D’Auria. Join us again for the Good Government Show, wherever you listen to podcasts.