It's been an especially tragic and trying year for first responders in Western Montana -- the dedicated men and women can often carry mental trauma that accumulates over the years of helping others.
A special workshop this weekend aims to throw them a lifeline to help them to learn new ways of coping with the pressures of their demanding careers.
"There's a stigma that it's a weakness to reach out for help and talk to somebody when you're struggling. That's something that we're trying to combat," said event organizer, Jason Johnson.
Johnson, who learned a lot about coping with trauma while working as a Missoula County Sheriff's Office deputy and undersheriff, is working with a group to organize a special workshop at River of Life Church this weekend entitled "Serving Well".
It's a three-hour introduction to ways of coping with what's known as "secondary trauma", the stress that severely impacts quality of life for the people who serve the community.
"One of the things that excites me about this event is that it's not just for first responders," said Johnson. “For example, ER nurses who are exposed to trauma that may be forgotten in this conversation.”
Johnson notes that all kinds of people that are exposed to trauma are invited, including chaplains, counselors, pastors, detention officers, crime victim advocates, and probation/parole officers.
While the seminar isn't designed to solve serious problems in a single session, Johnson says it will help open a door of hope for those seeking further help.
"It's just super important for our first responders and many others who are in the profession of helping people and through that are exposed to trauma, to be healthy,” said Johnson.
There's free admission to the "Serving Well" event on Saturday, but it's asked that you RSVP by email to outreach@ROLMT.com