PTSD: ‘Suck That up and Lock It Down’ Not the Best Deal for Emergency Responders


June is PTSD awareness month and studies show the repeat exposure to traumatic events, takes a toll on first responders.

According to a University of Phoenix study, 85 percent of first responders have experienced symptoms related to a mental health issue and 34 percent of those have a formal diagnosis.

First responders at the Murrels Inlet Garden City Fire Department recently went through mental health training.

The training focused on self-awareness, and signs and symptoms of mental health issues like PTSD. 

“It was real common that you were told quite quickly that you need to suck that up and lock it down, and keep on pushing and that’s the way it went for years,” Capetian Jerry Howerton said. “Now we’re starting to see this trend as people are getting more information about this and knowing it’s not a weakness.”

Howerton says he hopes mental health training becomes a regular part of tactical training and fire schools.

Captain Howerton is a member of the Low Country Firefighter Support Team and says there are resources that can help anyone in a branch of public safety with mental health issues.

The Firefighter Support Team offers things like peer and clinical counseling, and crisis intervention.

“We can be there to help them walk through this process, it’s not a scary process,” Howerton said. “This is nothing to shy away from and this isn’t a weakness that belittles them or makes them any less of a person but there is a lot of us here and ready to help if they will just reach out to us.”

By Taylor Hernandez | Published by WBTW News 13 | Read the article

Geneva Moore