First Responders | St. Louis Public Radio

First Responders

St. Louis Firefighter Cedric Ross talks with other firefighters while wearing a protective mask in St. Louis on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. All St. Louis firefighters are practicing safety from the coronavirus, by wearing the masks when on calls.
Bill Grenblatt | UPI

The highly contagious coronavirus has forced police and fire departments, often the most public-facing of city services, to change the way they interact with the public.

Whether it's disinfecting police cars and ambulances or limiting in-person response to serious crimes, departments across the region are adapting to keep their members safe.

A paramedic sits in an ambulance after a traumatic call.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers at Washington University have found that paramedics and emergency medical technicians are seven times as likely as the general public to have thought about suicide in the past year.

Five emergency medicine doctors surveyed more than 900 paramedics in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Iowa over three months in 2017. The results were published in an industry journal this month.

Two Australians created Mental Health First Aid  in 2001. Since then, millions of people have taken classes in how to help someone in a mental health crisis.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

If a woman at a restaurant chokes on a chicken bone, millions of people know to wrap their arms around her abdomen and dislodge it, thanks to countless classes that teach first aid. 

But if she starts hyperventilating during a panic attack, many people wouldn’t know how to help. If she stops showering or coming to work, her friends might not know what to do. 

To teach people how to respond, St. Louis organizations have started training the public in mental health first aid, which aims to offer immediate help for people experiencing emotional and mental health emergencies. It’s the same idea as traditional first aid, except that the wounds treated are emotional. 

Robots mounted with new detection equipment roll toward a simulated collapsed building at Fort Leonard Wood as part of testing of new technology. 10-18-19
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

FORT LEONARD WOOD — Soldiers in Missouri are testing new technology that could help save lives after a natural disaster or a terrorist bombing while keeping search-and-rescue teams safe.

The $700,000 Department of Defense project at Fort Leonard Wood is combining new and existing forms of technology that can be used by both the military and civilian first responders.

Adam Rockey, right, has been a "big brother" to Johnathan for more than 11 years. The local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is recruiting first responders to be mentors for kids in the St. Louis area.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is facing a volunteer shortage. 

More than 600 kids are waiting for a mentor — and about 80 percent are African American boys.

The local branch of the nonprofit is launching a program in the hopes of filling the volunteer gap and building trust within communities of color. The “Big Responders” program will pair police officers, paramedics and firefighters with kids in the St. Louis area. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 25, 2013 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon contended today that the state Senate was jeopardizing the public’s safety by cutting out $21 million in federal homeland security grants distributed to hundreds of local law enforcement agencies.

But the Republican senator responsible for the cut later accused the governor, a Democrat, of engaging in “sequester-type drama’’ to avoid dealing with the legislative disputes that prompted the Senate action.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon contended today that the state Senate was jeopardizing the public’s safety by cutting out $21 million in federal homeland security grants distributed to hundreds of local law enforcement agencies.

But the Republican senator responsible for the cut later accused the governor, a Democrat, of engaging in “sequester-type drama’’ to avoid dealing with the legislative disputes that prompted the Senate action.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 30, 2012 - St. Louisan Sara Howard is watching the news closely for more information about Superstorm Sandy. While her New Jersey siblings, parents and extended family are mostly all accounted for, the family is concerned about Howard's aunt in Union Beach.

Last night, Howard’s parents learned through text messages that the aunt had lost power but was otherwise OK. But no one has received any word since.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 16, 2012 - Listen to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and you'll soon hear about the burden of pensions.

Since Americans are living longer, pensions focus more significantly in their lives. Social Security is an important component of the retirement scheme but that program alone cannot ensure a middle class lifestyle. Not all employers offer pension plans to their employees but most governmental employers do.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 8, 2012 - There is only one proven alternative to aging, and it’s generally not very popular. Given the dearth of attractive options, most of us will attempt to hang around long enough to become a burden to society.

Though financial planners and pharmaceutical salesmen like to portray the “golden years” as a carefree excursion into a wonderland of shuffleboard and Viagra, the simple fact is that one’s earning potential tends to diminish as the years pile up. The problem is not a new one.

(via Google Maps screen capture)

A private school in the city of St. Louis is offering a full ride to the child of a police or firefighter in the city.

City Academy's director of development, Ginger Imster, says school officials decided to offer the one-year scholarship after listening to testimony at a special legislative hearing on education held at the North City school earlier this year.

Homeland security: 'Did we spend the money wisely

Sep 9, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2011 - Until about five years ago, the on-scene communications hub for first responders during emergencies in Franklin County was just radio equipment in a cluster of SUVs.

Then homeland security money from the federal government became available, and regional planners used about $250,000 of it to buy a "mobile command vehicle" for the county, complete with a conference room, computer hookups and technology that allows various first responders to communicate on radios that would otherwise be incompatible.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 25, 2011 - Homeland Security efforts are often associated with professional firefighters and police — those trained to be first responders. But a program available across Missouri offers training for ordinary citizens to react affirmatively to emergency situations.

Danger increases for first responders

Nov 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 7, 2008 - More black bunting draped over the entrance to a police station, a firehouse.

Another cop has been killed. A fireman slain.

The St. Louis metro area has been rocked by five slayings since February of so-called first responders" -- three police officers, two firemen.