BANGOR, Maine (WABI) -Every day, first responders put their lives on the line to protect us.
No matter what type of call, they answer it.
But, the job can cause emotional side effects.
The Bangor Police Department has resources for officers to talk about how they are feeling.
Patrol Officer, Chris Blanchard, said, “Every year, more police officers commit suicide than are killed in the line of duty.”
The challenges of the job are more than just responding to situations.
Blanchard explained, “There’s always that unknown factor in everything that we do.” He added, “The stigmatism is always been there. That you’re the police officer. You don’t ask for help, you don’t go talk to a doctor, you don’t go talk to anybody because that’s a sign of weakness.”
After more than two decades in the line of duty, Officer Blanchard realized talking out situations like difficult calls acts as a lifeline.
“I kind of pushed the chief to start a peer support team. which he was right on board with. We have a full support team,” Blanchard explained.
A peer support group of more than just men and women in uniform.
Bucky Eckman is the chaplain for the Bangor Police Department.
“Calls that are really difficult to see, to have someone that helps them think through some stuff, sometimes they don’t even really know how much it’s impacted them until they start talking about it,” Eckman said.
Still, they answer the call.
“Officers are pretty locked in. Their training is what it is and has got them to this point and they know what to do and how to respond,” Eckman explained.
But shootings, standoffs, and deadly accidents come with the job.
Blanchard said, “During the actual incident a lot of times we don’t have time to even question how we are feeling or how we are doing because we have a job to do.”
Just like when we need them help is there at all times.
“If you have things like peer support teams and chaplains’ that can wrap around the officers at the earliest possible moment…”
BLANCHARD – “Somethings you might see you might lose some sleepover. Just prolonged lack of sleep and having those feelings go on without being addressed is not okay. It doesn’t matter. We will answer the phone. We will talk to you. It’s going to affect your health. Speak out.”
The National Alliance On Mental Illness has resources for law enforcement.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the NAMI Maine helpline at 1-800-464-5767.
For more information visit https://www.namimaine.org/lawenforcement.
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