Franklin County Public Safety is starting a new program to help people who witness traumatic events.
“When we get called to go out to an emergency the citizen was there first so they see the worst of it,” said Franklin County Director of Public Safety Billy Ferguson.
The department is partnering with Putting a Dent in Mental Health to hand out special cards to those who have experienced traumatic events.
The cards list signs and symptoms of PTSD, and provide some coping techniques and phone numbers for anyone suffering a mental health crisis.
The cards have a number for a crisis hotline, as well as a number for a local Chaplin.
Whether it be a bad crash, a shooting, or a fire — people out in the community often times get there before first responders. Ferguson hopes these cards could help witnesses cope after trauma.
“If you come upon a wreck on the interstate or you have a tragedy in your family, we’re in and out of your life in 15-20 minutes. So we may not see the effects down the road. And so being a little proactive and giving this card to you, it tells you the feelings you have are natural and we experience the same things sometimes,” said Ferguson.
He got the idea from a first responder group. When he heard about it, he decided to partner with Jonathan Smith from Putting a Dent in Mental Health.
“We would rather be proactive with helping the citizens in Franklin County, instead of reactive,” said Jonathan Smith. “And this is a good way to be proactive because we’re one step ahead of helping our citizens before it’s too late.”
Many local residents think the cards are a great idea.
“I think it’s important to be able to talk to anyone, but to talk to someone that’s local, I think that’s a good idea,” said Joan Miles.
The cards are something people in Franklin County say they appreciate.
“We all need to be able to turn to somebody at some time for many reasons and this gives people the resources,” said Johnny Smith
The Director of Public Safety wants their providers, and partners, like tow truck drivers, law enforcement, etc to have the cards to hand out.
Ferguson says he’d like to see this take off not just across the county, but across the state.