first responders

San Antonio’s Denise Thompson has shifted from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings with first responders to continue to offer support amidst the stress of the coronavirus disease. COVID-19 has limited people’s ability to meet face to face, which has complicated many industries. One such affected career is counseling and peer support services. Thankfully, Denise Thompson, the director of resiliency and peer support for Bexar County’s District 7 Fire & Rescue has found a creative way to continue supporting first responders. Denise Thompson offers virtual support for first responders.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Thompson and her team were working with responders after the mass shootings at the Sutherland Springs church and Walmart in El Paso.

Thompson says that under normal operating conditions, workers on the front line don’t worry about bringing a disease home that can infect their families. On top of that, there are also spouses of front line workers who have lost their jobs. All of these factors affect a family’s finances and sense of safety.

Thompson’s goal is to “Prevent significant stress reactions, post-traumatic stress, and individuals becoming depressed and anxious about the situation.” Virtual counseling for first responders is a lifeline for those who are more accustomed to providing help.

First responders, including hospital medical personnel, in need of support and other resources, can text her at 2108548739 or send her an email at dt*******@d7**.org.

Her contact information has been shared with the South Texas Regional Advisory Council as well as Alamo area fire and police chiefs; Denise is available almost 24/7, depending on the need.

In addition to having one-on-one virtual support for first responders calls, Thompson also has video briefings with department groups to talk about how to handle stress.

Dr. Craig Manifold, EMS medical director, said although current first responders have never seen something on the scale of this worldwide pandemic, past encounters with natural disasters and the like has served to prepare them.

Manifold also states “We’re fortunate that there’s been a task force before the coronavirus that was put in place to help improve the resiliency of first responders.”