‘This has become an epidemic’

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Assistant Fire Chief Chip Terry served in Covington for almost three decades. (Photo used with permission from Katie Woodring Photography.)

Registration open for PTS seminar Friday honoring late chief

 COVINGTON, Ky. - The family of late Assistant Covington Fire Chief Chip Terry didn’t know what to expect a year ago when they organized the City’s first-ever seminar on post-traumatic stress among first responders.
 
Then 115 people showed up.
 
And the discussion was so intense and lively that organizers knew they not only had to have a second seminar but also had to adjust the format.
 
“There were so many questions last year that we did not have time to address them all,” said Terry’s wife, Jo.
 
“We heard many people say that it was the best PTSD seminar they’d ever attended,” she said. “This year’s event was created from the suggestions from last year. We are addressing ‘resiliency and growth after trauma’ as our main topic but will be hosting break-out sessions for more dialogue with the attendees.”
 
The seminar, which will feature experts on trauma and behavioral health, takes place Friday at the Life Learning Center. Register HERE, but walk-ins will be accepted with payment at the door.
 
“Resiliency and Post Traumatic Growth” is open to the public but is geared toward first responders, their spouses and partners, public officials, and community leaders. Its goal is to foster understanding and spread the alarm about post-traumatic stress and its potentially dangerous impact in the public safety community.
 
Terry retired in 2012 after 26 years with the Covington Fire Department. Haunted by the memories and stress that accompanied his work, he took his own life in September 2017.
 
“PTSD is a real disorder in which the physiology of the brain changes, creating debilitating thoughts that leave so many to think that suicide is the only option,” Jo Terry explained. “The statistics for both police and firefighters show that suicide deaths exceed line-of-duty deaths. This has become an epidemic.”
 
Covington Fire Chief Mark Pierce, who knew Terry since high school and worked with him for decades both as a firefighter and outside the department, said awareness is critical.
 
“The more information about post-traumatic stress that is out there, the better it is for us as first responders in identifying and hopefully helping those who might be going through this struggle,” Pierce said.
 
The chief said at least 10 to 15 Covington firefighters, plus some spouses, would be attending the seminar. “Last year’s program was a very good one with lots of good discussion,” he said.
 
He said the seminar complements the efforts of a Behavioral Health and Wellness Committee created by the Fire Department that has met regularly since Terry’s death.
 
About the seminar
  • Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday.
  • Location: Life Learning Center, 20 W. 18th St., Covington.
  • Cost: $30 a person, or $50 a couple.
  • Included: Lunch and a book - “Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth,” by Jim Rendon.
 
To donate
Donations to The Chip Terry Fund for First Responders, a 501(c) (3) organization, can be made:
  • Through the Fund’s website: HERE.
  • By mailing a check to The Chip Terry Fund, 223 Garrard St., Covington, KY 41011.
 
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