Mental Health first-aid class to be offered in Henry County for firefighters, EMTs

Class about how to deal with mental health issues

By Colter Anstaett - Reporter

HENRY COUNTY, Va. - First responders are now more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

That's why the Henry County Department of Public Safety is offering a mental health first aid class.

Responding to traumatic situations, like the one in January of last year where a 6-year-old Henry County boy was hit and killed by a car while sledding, takes a toll on first responders.

For some, the toll becomes too much.

"I lost my son, Mykael, back in 2015," Henry County Department of Public Safety paramedic Hamp Ingram said.

Ingram's son took his own life.

"Although I can't say for sure it was related to fire or EMS, I know he was active in both," Ingram said. 

"No human being should see some of the things that we see, but we go out there and we do it because that's what we do, and we do it well. But firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services personnel, we're supposed to be tough. We're supposed to be able to go out and help these people and then we go back to our jobs and we don't think about it and we just tuck it away."

The class, which is being offered in April, will help firefighters and paramedics learn to deal with the toll the job takes on their mental health as well as deal with mental health issues in others.

Henry County Fire Marshal Lisa Garrett and the department of public safety's operations chief, Jason Sturm, recently took the class.

"Our goal is to become instructors and to be able to teach this at the fire departments and rescue squads for the community," Garrett said.

"It's a big problem and we need to start getting ahead of it," Sturm said.

They say the class is very interactive and there will be more classes after the class in April.

To sign up for the class, click here.

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