When Bryan Williams, of the Town of Newburgh Ambulance Corps, became an EMT six years ago, he never thought he’d be working in the middle of a pandemic.
“It’s a lot and I know a lot of first responders are not only fearful for themselves but for their family members," Williams said.
Marissa Badgley’s younger sister is a paramedic in the Hudson Valley.
“She was talking to me about how stressed and anxious and frustrated and lonely their work is and has been as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," says Badgley.
She started a program that gives free mental health services to first responders and health care professionals.
“I said well I have a social work background so how about I try to find a few volunteers to be able to support you and your union and the people with whom you work," Badgley said.
Three weeks later, they have around one thousand mental health volunteers in 46 states, including in the Hudson Valley.
A program Williams says people should take advantage of.
“A lot of first responders are very um proud, and they often don’t reach out for help even when they need too. We basically go from one call to the next to the next, sometimes you don’t have time to process what you’re actually going through and then it kind of all just builds up eventually," Williams said.
Badgley says for many people on the front lines, what they are going through now, will translate to PTSD after the pandemic ends.
"So while we went into this thinking it would be a short term thing, we are now committed to really being in this for the long haul," Badgley said.
To volunteer or sign up for the free mental health services click here and go to the coronavirus response page.