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When Helping Hurts: How Tragic Calls Affect our First Responders

AMARILLO - The Amarillo Fire Department is humanizing their heroes. 

A post made on Twitter and Facebook Thursday by the department is getting a lot of attention for highlighting the trauma first responders are put through when answering a call. 

The post is in regards to a fatal accident that happened early Wednesday morning on I-40 and Pullman. Two people were killed, including an 11-year-old child, and three more were seriously injured. 

Firefighters are usually one of the first people on the scene, saying most of their calls are medical, then accidents, and then fires fall somewhere down the line.

They said calls, especially those involving kids or multiple fatalities, can be particularly hard. 

"It's usually about the time you get back to the station, crews start talking to one another and we kind of start diffusing the situation, and that's when emotions, your adrenaline, kind of kicks down. Your emotions really start to come out," said Eric Clark, AFD Driver and Chaplain.

AFD does have a protocol for debriefing firefighters after calls.

Those meetings are led by peers, not supervisors.

It is not really a chance to talk about what went right or wrong, but more a chance to focus on mental health and how the firefighters are being affected by what they see. 

The debriefing program is called Critical Incident Stress Management, and it is widely used by first responders across the nation.


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