LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock Fire Rescue’s Critical Incident Stress Team recently returned from Midland/Odessa, where they reached out to help first responders in the wake of the shooting that killed seven people and injured 22.
The team has made multiple trips to the Permian Basin. They went to El Paso when the shooting happened there and then, 28 days later, they were off to Odessa to help their fellow first responders cope with a new tragedy.
“While brave, honest, having integrity, we’re still humans and we still get impacted by the horror of what we see what we experience,” said Matt McGinnis, Coordinator of the Critical Incident Stress Team.
McGinnis has been the coordinator of the team for 17 years and says he has seen firsthand how helpful this can be for those struggling after being involved in high-risk situations.
“I’ll tell you that in 2016, in West Texas, there’s eight different first responders that killed themselves because of stress and other things in life. A lot of it was the result of not dealing with stuff that they’ve been through - what they’ve seen, so this is like an epidemic in our country among first responders.”
Half a dozen people from LFR’s team were on this recent trip to Odessa. They say it’s not easy to get those first responders to open up, but it’s worth it when they do.
“Seeing the change in first responders’ faces, their countenance, their body language, from the time and the shape that they’re in until the time that we leave - sometimes it can be 180 degrees.”
This trip to Midland/Odessa was particularly hard for LFR, after seeing what these first responders went through, dealing with such a horrifying mass shooting.
“I don’t know how you prepare to talk to guys who go respond to people who’ve been shot with a high-powered rifle, who are minding their own business. It can get overwhelming”
The Critical Incident Team at LFR has received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.