KPTV file photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging for everyone, including first responders, even though they train for emergencies and know they’ll be on the front lines.

Jon Harrell with Portland Fire & Rescue is a member of the department’s Peer Support Team, a group of firefighters who are specially trained to provide mental and emotional support to other firefighters who might need it.

Their help might be required after a particularly traumatic call they respond to or during a long-term emergency, like the coronavirus.

FOX 12 asked Harrell if he’s hearing from more of his colleagues who need someone to talk to because of the coronavirus. He said they’re not seeing a spike above normal calls for peer support services, which may be because the team has been successful in the past with connecting people to healthcare providers and other resources to reach out to directly.

Still, Harrell says, this is an important time to remind all first responders that there is help available.

“We’ve all trained and we’ve all experienced some really bad things in our lives, so we all have that commonality and that bond that brings us together and allows us to really drill down and cut through the minutia and have honest and authentic conversations so we can maintain that state of readiness for that next call,” Harrell said.

Harrell says it’s important to focus on healthy self-care and coping mechanisms right now, like online meditation or mindfulness videos. He also suggests getting enough exercise, sleep, and water, and maintaining social connections, even if that has to be done virtually for now.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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