First responders receiving mental health support following Friday’s deadly shooting

First responders have mental health resources in place to help them process the trauma from Friday’s tragic shooting.
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 7:48 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

Last Friday, Officer Jake Wallin was killed in the line of duty. He made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our community from what we’ve now learned, was a possible mass shooting attempt.

“What I saw our crews go through on Friday, what I saw fire fighters and police officers go through I never wanted to see and I never want to see it again,” says Kathy Lonski of Sanford Ambulance. She’s part of the Peer Assistance Crisis Team, also known as PACT. The group is led by employees who have taken additional training on how to support coworkers that are processing traumatic events.

“Basically a safe place or safe way to file that away in their brain so it doesn’t keep back and haunting them,” she explains.

We know the first responders at the scene performed admirably under pressure, from Officer Robinson neutralizing the shooter, to Fargo Fire Department applying lifesaving measures to the officers that were shot, to the Sanford Ambulance in Fargo arriving to the scene within minutes.

Lanski says she’s proud of her crew. “We all came together and did the best job that we could given the circumstances,” she says.

With the traumatic events first responders witness on a regular basis, their mental health can suffer. Experts say, first responders could develop behavioral health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance use.

However, Lanski says PACT can help, “Being able to talk about it, verbalize it so we can know, what are the next steps I can do to take care of myself.”

According to the substance abuse and mental health services administration, it is estimated that 30-percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions including depression and PTSD.

For additional mental health resources can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.