UM Police Chief Touts Film on How PTSD Affects First Responders
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - PTSD, an acronym that stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can affect anyone, but our police, firefighters, and other first responders often suffer silently from PTSD and find it difficult to ask for help.
KGVO News spoke to the University of Montana Police Chief Brad Giffin on Friday about a special film that will be shown at the University Theater on May 25 called ‘PTSD 9-1-1’.
“We were blessed to have a filmmaker who produced a feature called PTSD 911,” began Chief Giffin. “It's about the way that PTSD affects first responders, police officers, dispatchers, EMT’s and other people in the medical profession, you name it. It's such an overlooked thing that destroys so many of us because I think there's a hesitancy for people to reach out for help when they suffer from these things because of the stigma attached to it.”
Chief Giffin said police, sheriff’s deputies, and other first responders are the ones the rest of us turn to for help, while they often keep all the stress they experience trapped inside with no healthy outlet.
“The society outsources all its trauma to us,” he said. “We're the recipients of all the trauma and over the years that build up, especially when you’re expected to be the strong one that can handle all that and, and carry it and deal with it without having any resources. I know for a fact that it affects people in a way that if they reach out for help, sometimes they think they're weak, needing to reach out for help, but it's required.”
Chief Giffin shared some personal experiences with handling trauma for others over a long law enforcement career.
“We see more trauma over the course of our career than basically any other normal person,” he said. “I mean, I did 23 years of death investigations at the sheriff's office, so just the compounding trauma in addition to delivering, bad news to family members and those kinds of things. I think they just tend to pile up and then there's no place for you to really unload that stuff. You have to carry it with you and try to figure out how to deal with it and survive at the same time.”
Chief Giffin said times are changing, and first responders are getting the help they need. He said this film is one way to get them the help they need.
“It never really has been an issue that's at the forefront in most of the leadership positions, but I think that's changing,” he said. “Because PTSD does affect people, and even the strongest among us are affected in ways that we don't recognize until we sit back and think about the things that we've had to endure. So I'm really excited about having this movie here in Missoula, to be honest. So it's $10 admission. It'll be at 7:00 p.m. on May 25, and it's going to be at the UM University Theater, and at the end of the movie, there's going to be a discussion panel taking questions and discussing PTSD.”
Click here to see a trailer for the film ‘PTSD911’.