Our view: Crisis support for the community
When tragedy strikes a small community like Steamboat Springs or Clark or Oak Creek, many people are deeply affected including the first responders, those who might have witnessed the incident as well as friends and family of the victim. Tragedies include fires, vehicle crashes, avalanches, suicides and sometimes, violent crimes, and these events can cause trauma for the people who respond or witness them.
In 2018, the Routt County Crisis Support program was formed by firefighter Marnie Smith and counselors Molly Lotz and Angela Melzer to help emergency responders deal with the trauma of tragic calls, and this year, the program has been expanded to civilians.
Offering people the opportunity to debrief and talk after a tragic incident is vitally important to their mental health, and we wholeheartedly support the efforts of this program.
Because we live in a close-knit community, tragedy can touch a large number of people, and research shows that those who are affected benefit most if they are able to discuss what happened within 24 to 72 hours after a critical incident. Having access to debriefings with trained volunteers and mental health professionals can help minimize post-traumatic stress, which can eventually result in post-traumatic stress disorder.
The group recently adopted a new, more encompassing vision that involves “supporting, guiding and connecting the community and individuals in times of crisis.” This expanded focus to include the community is unique and puts Routt County in a position to be a trailblazer and model for other towns when it comes to providing these services.
And according to Smith, the response has been encouraging with more and more people seeking help. “What I’m seeing is, the more we talk about it, the more people tap into it,” Smith said.
At issue: Routt County Crisis Support is expanding its outreach to the community.
Our view: This program is groundbreaking and has the power to help people heal from trauma that accompanies tragedy.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Jason Gilligan, community representative
- Don Moss, community representative
Programs like these also serve to break down stigmas surrounding mental health, especially among our police officers, firefighters, paramedics and search and rescue volunteers who traditionally have taken a more Teflon approach to the tragedies they respond to — toughing it out rather than talking it out. That mindset is shifting, and we are encouraged to see local emergency agencies embracing that change and seeking more support for the men and women who serve our communities so courageously.
The all-volunteer crisis support team is meeting an important community need and offering its services for free. In turn, we believe this group deserves our support, which can be provided by donating to the nonprofit, helping spread the word about the program or utilizing the services when needed. For more information on Routt County Crisis Support or to access services, visit routtcountycrisissupport.org.
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