Seminar set for first responders

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders rush in to take care of people in crisis every day.
But witnessing those heart-breaking, sometimes-gruesome scenes can take a toll on the rescuers.
“They’re trained very well in helping other people,” said Scott Sumrall, director of disaster preparedness and response for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. “Sometimes they’re not as well prepared to take care of themselves.”
Sumrall will facilitate a free Post-Disaster Mental Health Seminar for First Responders Monday at North Mississippi State Hospital in Tupelo. It will focus on dealing with post-disaster emotions.
Although organizers particularly want to reach out to those who were first responders during the tornadoes that ripped through Northeast Mississippi this spring, the seminar is open to any first responder.
“The skills are things they can use themselves,” to process the emotional toll from a single-vehicle wreck to a large-scale disaster, Sumrall said. “We want to teach people to deal with it so they don’t experience a cumulative effect.”
During large-scale disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the April 27 tornado that killed 17 in Monroe County, first responders can reach that effect much more quickly.
“When you have to go house to house seeing multiple injuries, multiple fatalities, multiple destruction, it builds up,” Sumrall said. “The biggest issue is they typically don’t seek help.”
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or

– For: First responders

– When: 1:30 to 5 p.m.

– Cost: Free

– Call: (662) 690-4286 to preregister