Caring for Florida's first responders’ mental health in Hurricane Ian’s wake

  • Source: WINK-TV CBS 11 Fort Myers
  • Published: 03/29/2023 12:00 AM

Since Sept. 28, when Southwest Florida’s first responders and dispatchers took thousands of heartbreaking 911 calls, there has been a big focus on those first responders’ mental well-being. Part of Florida’s emergency response plan for Ian was providing mental health support for our first responders. WINK News asked them what that day was like and how they’re doing six months later. “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Diana Hernden, division chief of EMS and health/safety with the Iona-McGregor Fire District. Hernden was one of the people keeping track of those emergency calls as the wind picked up and the storm surge rushed in. “Our hearts were just breaking for the community,” Hernden said. She didn’t hear the panic in the voices on the other line—dispatchers handled that—but she wrote down all the calls. Looking at the call logs six months later still gives her chills: Water rescue, 11 people… water rescue, three people in an attic… 1-year-old needs oxygen.


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