BTB Radio: Officers help each other deal with trauma they can’t un-see


First responders see and hear things most people shouldn’t have to see or hear – the carnage following mass killing, victims of car accidents, abused children.

BTB Radio’s podcast “Who helps the cops?” features the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Regional Peer Support Coordinator Heather Williams, who has for decades helped the community – and now first responders – deal with the impact of trauma.

The podcast can be heard in two segments. The first one is here and the second can be heard here.

Williams and host Kevin Von Luft discuss what’s being done to prevent post traumatic stress disorders and police officer suicides.

“If we talk about how we feel, we tend to feel better,” she says.

But that’s not how officers were traditionally trained to deal with trauma, Von Luft says. The old law enforcement culture: suck it up, this was the job they signed up to do.

“Over time that accumulation of seeing things you can’t un-see can starts to create stress-related illnesses, physical issues and illnesses, addictions and relationship turmoil,” Williams says during the podcast. “There is a self destruction that can go with it.”

By taking care of their mental well being, officers are better equipped to do their jobs, Williams said, and are better able to serve the community. She said she is seeing a change in the culture.

“I’m very, very proud to be  able to say yes that I am seeing an enormous shift in the culture coming from various generations of law enforcement right now. ”