ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Following the recent death of a one-year-old allegedly abused by his mother, also accused of abusing her two-year-old daughter, the conversation is being raised about how mental health support is being offered to first responders when they report these calls and other serious crimes these days.  

No matter what agency you work for, there are not many ways to train for tragedies like this. Leaders and longtime members of the Rochester Locust Club and local ambulance services say in recent years more awareness of mental health support is being discussed, but there has yet to be an organized system put in place to guarantee them help.  

Chief Jonathan Smith is about to enter his 24th year as a paramedic. While leading the Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance Service, he’s learned supporting the mental health of your team starts with supervisors recognizing the challenges their crew faces on calls these days.  

“We’ve often thought that’s part of the job and talking with someone about it means you’re not tough enough to handle it,” Chief Smith said. “I think especially within the last 10 years we’ve seen a significant shift in recognizing in the EMS community that we have to have a better system.”  

Here at Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance, every paramedic and EMT goes through a debriefing after returning from a critical call. Chief Smith stressed over time this can become more challenging but crucial to make sure his team gets their own mental health support so they’re ready to help others.  

“We sit down and say this truly was catastrophic and we need to take time to understand how you are?” Chief Smith explained. “How things went and how we can move forward without folks being in that spot?”  

In the case of A’Mias Love’s death, leaders of the Rochester Locust Club Police Union worry because of staffing shortages, the same officers who investigated the one-year-old and his sister abused, can’t always take time for their own mental health, and keep responding to other emergencies.  

“It’s the same officers all the time,” Locust Club Vice President Adam Devincentis said. “It’s the repeated exposure to the trauma accumulative that is what officers are always dealing with. Ambulance workers, firemen, it’s the same thing. It’s a constant daily part of the job. You can’t take that much stress and have it impact you in some way.”  

Leaders with the police union are always determined to be there and help Rochester Police Officers but would like to see a more structured system in which the whole industry can be mentally supported.  

“Something that can be replicated that hey this just happened, so we started step one,” Vice President Devincentis added. “And we know what steps to go through next as a department how to help this person or make sure if they need help, they get it and what help that is. We’re not great at it yet, but it’s definitely talked about and recognized now.”  

If you or someone you know is a first responder who’s suffering a mental health crisis, there are multiple local and national hotlines to reach for help. That includes 211 or 988 nationally. Which can remain confidential.  

Mental Health experts also advise you to reach out to trusted family members and keep them in the loop with what you’re going through because that can ensure you have a support system by your side.