Workshop aims to help first responders deal with emotions after continued exposure to tragedy

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - First responders are always on the front lines supporting the community through risky and often traumatic situations. After their work is done, however, some emotions that can be hard to deal with, can linger.

A new program designed to train emergency responders on how to deal with that emotional trauma, was offered to in Anchorage on Wednesday. Sarah Mielke started the Emotional Trauma Life Support program. The State Healthcare Coalition reached out to Mielke to bring her to Alaska. She travels around to different states teaching about why these emotions happen, the physical changes that come with them, and how to cope. She hosts these workshops as a former first responder, and PTSD survivor herself.

"I have dealt with almost a year and a half suicidal period several years ago," Said Mielke. "There's not much that I talk about in this class that I haven't lived through myself. It not only gives me a unique platform to be able to understand where my colleagues are coming from, but it also makes me extremely passionate about going back into those dark places, so that my colleagues don't have to continue to die at their own hands."

The free two day workshop continues Thursday at 8 a.m. at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage. First responders seeking help to cope with their emotions can visit the Emotional Trauma Life Support website, or call the Alaska Careline at (877) 266-HELP (4357).

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