Sanford Ambulance reflects on losing one of their own

May in Mental Health Awareness Month
Eli Karlins
Eli Karlins(Sanford Ambulance)
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 7:10 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - May is Mental Health Awareness month and the Sanford Ambulance team is talking about how their experiences can take a toll on their mental health- and how they are dealing with the loss of one of their own.

Sanford Health professionals are urging all first responders to prioritize their mental health.

Kathy Lonski, Sanford Ambulance Improvement Advisor, remembers Eli Karlins fondly, “He was always looking to make people, whether it was his coworkers, his patients, laugh and feel better about their day. He was good at getting a smile out of people and that will be missed.”

Professionals say it’s hard to not carry the weight of the job on your shoulders.

Lonski explains, “It’s the cumulative effect. Seeing some of the things we see day in and day out.”

Which is why it’s important to be aware of the toll the job can have.

The National Institute of Health says, “Emergency medical services workers may experience mental, physical, and emotional stresses every shift they work. It is a job which commonly has high levels of stress, increasing incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder, and on the job injuries. These issues contribute to high rates of suicide, job-related burnout, clinical depression, and physical conditions which no longer allows the EMS provider to work in the field. Personal health and physical, emotional, and mental wellness play a critical role in helping EMS workers survive in their careers.”

Lonski emphasizes that it’s important to learn how you act in times of stress and to let your loved ones know what to look for when you’re showing signs of needing help, especially if you’re a first responder.

“Sometimes, especially in the healthcare profession or as a first responder, whether it be police, fire, EMS, we think that we have to be that superhero that we have to do this without feeling, I think Eli felt like he had to always be the guy that made everyone happy.”

If you or someone you know is looking for mental health support you can find local resources through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.