First Responders Learn to Cope with PTSD
Deborah Ortiz is the wife of a former New York State Police trooper. After 22 years of service as a state trooper and a federal agent, he retired. Ortiz and her family didn’t know that part of his job would stay with him long after he put down his badge and gun.
“It took about two years after his retirement before we realized he was dealing with PTSD,” said Debroah Ortiz, co-founder of the Code 9 Project. “Our family went through absolute hell. He had no idea what he was dealing with and neither did we.”
Code 9 Project Visits Brooklyn Park
After his diagnosis, Ortiz did her research and found that PTSD was a huge issue among first responders. To help raise awareness she created a film called “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance Documentary”. That film then turned into a nonprofit now known as the Code 9 Project. The organization travels around the country to educate first responders about the signs and symptoms of PTSD.
“Suicides have reached epidemic proportions,” said Ortiz. “This is as real as it gets. We speak to family members who have lost a loved one to suicide all the time and it is horrific. It has got to change. And that is what we are committed to doing, making change happen in the first responder culture.”
The nonprofit visited Brooklyn Park Thursday to provide training to first responders across the Twin Cities.
Training for Family Members Too
While the organization provides training for first responders, they also provide the training for family members of first responders too. They say providing the family with training is just as important as providing the first responders. Family members are the first ones to see how the job can affect them.
“We start with the education and the science of you,” said Brandielee Baker, co-founder of the Code 9 Project. “Then we focus on warning signs and more importantly self-care tools and resources. It’s one thing to give information. It’s another thing to give tools so that you can manage what’s going on.”
Most importantly the Code 9 Project wants to make sure the first responders and their family members are making mental health a priority. For more information: visit the Code 9 Project’s website.