VIDEO: Orange County commissioners agreed this week to fund a mental-health training program intended to help first responders and others struggling to shake free of the horrors they saw at the Pulse nightclub massacre.
“Forty-nine innocent people killed at one time,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who responded to Pulse as the county sheriff on June 12, 2016. “That’s something akin to what you might see on a battlefield in war.”
The mass shooting at the LGBTQ club traumatized not only Pulse patrons but also Orlando-area police, firefighters and paramedics summoned to the crime scene and others whose duties brought them face-to-face with the aftermath.
The training program, created and run by the St. Petersburg College Center for Public Safety Innovation, is intended to teach first responders how to care for themselves after crisis events and recognize peers who may need help coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The county awarded the college $244,000 from a federal anti-terrorism grant to pay for the program.