SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Seattle man is making his way across the country to spread awareness about the mental health struggles first responders face.
Jeff Shepard with “Ride 4 Relief” says when he was a police officer, he was involved in four incidents over ten years where he almost died. He’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder twice and wants to reduce the stigma connected to it. Shepard is joining forces with Sioux Falls Police and Fire Rescue to get the word out. Battalion Chief Mike Clauson says the department has started peer support groups and new training to teach firefighters how to handle stress.
“We’ve implemented some resiliency training, and we’ve just been very open and frank about the line of work and the things that impact us and the things we see. We’ve started that and we hope to build upon that over the next several academies,” Clauson said.
Shepard with Ride 4 Relief is scheduled to make a visit to Chicago next. Shepard rode a motorcycle to 14 states last year from Seattle to Washington, D.C.