RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — First Responders face trauma and dangerous situations on a near daily basis, which is why this week is National First Responder Wellness Week. In Rapid City, the Pennington County Sheriff’s office says the health and well being of all its employees is vital to the job they perform.

Each day brings new challenges in law enforcement.
Sgt. Victor Gust. who has been in law enforcement for 15 years, says sometimes work comes home with him.

“In our line of work we deal with a lot of traumatic things, a lot of things we see and hear are not for the faint of heart and that normal people struggle with but we are normal people too outside of the job so it does take a toll on us too,” Sgt. Gust said.

In corrections, officers like Sgt. Christopher Daniel, say the job is very demanding both mentally and physically.

“On a day to day basis we do deal with assistance calls throughout the day. So physically, mentally we need to be prepared to handle those and sometimes those things do follow us home and can impact our personal lives,” Sgt. Daniel said.

Wellness Director Corey Brubakken says about 50 percent of first responders have a cardiovascular event within five years of retirement.

“First responders are more prone to cardiovascular related diseases resulting from the stress that they are under on a daily basis. They also face areas of concern in regard to insomnia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse,” Corey Brubakken, Wellness Dept. Dir., said.

That is why the Wellness Department is accessible to all the Sheriff’s Office employees. It includes support groups, a wellness app, and a therapy dog named Harley.

“Having an agency like we do that helps out with that and provides for what we need is important too,” Sgt. Gust said.

The Wellness Department at the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office was introduced in 2020.