Free seminar scheduled to help emergency workers, others learn how to deal with trauma’s aftermath
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 3, 2006 -- Virtually every job involves stress, but for law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders who deal with traumatic incidents on a daily basis, it's an even more prominent factor.

It would be safe to say that those public servants are among the most susceptible to a quiet killer — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a psychiatric disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing life-threatening events.

According to information from Texas Narcotic Officers Association, at least two emergency service personnel commit suicide every day due to the psychological trauma that comes from dealing with stress, death, grief, unjustified guilt, resentment and loss.

To help these public servants better deal with PTSD, the Texas Narcotic Officers Association, along with Sulphur Springs Police Department and Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, is sponsoring a free seminar, "Dealing with the Aftermath of Trauma," from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening in the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Auditorium. The seminar is open to members of all emergency response agencies and their spouses, and a limited number of seats will also be available for those interested in PTSD.

Information presented during the seminar can help those responding to emergencies on a daily basis better manage their lives.

The speaker for the seminar is Bobby Smith, a former Louisiana state trooper and founder and director of Foundation for Officers Recovering from Traumatic Events, and a man with firsthand experience in PTSD.

While serving as a state trooper in Louisiana in 1986, Smith was shot in the face and blinded while on duty. As a result of the shooting and the events that followed, he realized the need for law enforcement officers to have assistance in dealing with post traumatic events. He founded FORTE in 2001 to provide training and counseling for law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel and their families who must go through traumatic events.

Smith, an 11-year police veteran, is a certified law enforcement trainer and chaplain and holds a doctoral degree in counseling and psychology. He is the author of two books, "Visions of Courage" and "The Will to Survive."

Smith received the 1988 Military Order of the Purple Heart National Law Enforcement Citation, the 1984 Kiwanis International "Lawman of the Year" award, and was honored in 1987 as U.S. Trooper of the Year.

The seminar, sponsored by TNOA, Hopkins County Sheriff's Department and Sulphur Springs Police Department, will be presented at no cost to those attending.

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