REIDSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — It can be easy to look at a police officer or a paramedic and think they’re doing fine – not more stress than they can handle.
But dealing with stressful situations is almost all they do from the time they button the last button on their uniform.
“It’s one of the few professions that when you leave home, you never know whether you’re going to return home,” said James Tharrington, a pastor who has worked for the last eight years as a chaplain with the Reidsville Police Department. “I think it takes a lot of unspoken toll.”
Speaking about that toll is what Tharrington and the three other chaplains with the Reidsville PD are there to do but they know many officers and first responders – often former military members – are often reticent to do that.
“Many may have never asked for help, they’ve never asked for prayer, just the eye contact,” is what he has to go on, Tharrington said.
The constancy of the trauma they are exposed to is what appears most difficult to handle.
“What our officers and first responders have to see is unbelievable,” Tharrington said. “Not only do they have to go to the families but they have to kind of set that to the side, put on their hats when they come into this job and be prepared to see anything from A to Z. They could see anything from a house on fire, death, a suicide, they arrive at a domestic violence situation.”
The chaplains are seeing progress with the work they do.
“It’s almost like, I guess, the Tale of Two Cities: it’s the worst of times, but it’s the best of times. The glass is half empty, the glass is half full, so I lean towards the glass is half full,” he said.
And that, Tharrington believes, is saving lives.
“I sure hope so.”
See just how bad the situation is for police officers and first responders, nationwide, in this edition of the Buckley Report.