First responders face life and death situations each day. Critical incidents involving serious injury, conflict and even violence are a regular part of their chosen careers.
But these physical battles are not the only ones they fight. The internal battles that go along with their jobs can prove just as challenging.
After 27 years serving as an officer for the Las Vegas Police Department, Clarke Paris understands the daily emotional and mental stress first responders face.
“I was like most first responders at the beginning of my career,” says Paris. “I felt that there would never be any negative consequences to being a police officer. Well, I was wrong, and at the 21-year point in my career, I began to struggle. That struggle impacted me, my family and my career in ways I never anticipated.”
Paris’ personal journey overcoming the stress of his job as a police officer inspired him to produce his award-winning documentary film on police suicide, The Pain Behind the Badge, and to write his book My Life for Your Life.
It also led him to create the Winning the Battle training seminar, which he teaches alongside his wife Tracie Paris, who worked for nearly 30 years as a trauma nurse. Together, they have traveled the nation presenting Winning the Battle to thousands of first responders, US military personnel and their loved ones.
This motivational event offers training and resources to deal with stressors, which can result in career-ending actions. The seminar addresses depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cumulative stress, progression of stress, perception protection, spousal and family involvement, suicide prevention and more.
“These are topics rarely broached in law enforcement, even though they effect nearly every first responder,” says Paris. “With more police officers and firefighters committing suicide than are killed by assailants and fires, understanding and accepting that this job will change you is important, but understanding that it should not define you is paramount.”
“Our objectives are to convince first responders that should they be struggling, they are not alone, and it’s okay to not be okay. If you need help, get it.”
While his seminar is geared toward first responders and their spouses, Paris says the message regarding stress management, mental health and suicide prevention is beneficial for everyone.
“I wish the entire community could hear our message, not just first responders and significant others,” says Paris. “The better prepared a community’s first responders are for a tragedy, or any aspect of their job, the better off the community.”
Paris’ Winning the Battle seminar will be held in Pittsburg from 8:00 am – 3:30 pm Thursday, August 23, at the Memorial Auditorium. The City of Pittsburg Police Department sponsors this one-day training, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
The cost of the event is $35 per registrant, and is free for spouses/significant others. For more information, or to register for the event, visit www.pittks.org/winning-the-battle.