Chip Terry Fund for First Responders bringing awareness to PTS;
COVINGTON, Ky. – Tickets remain available for a “couples event” Friday – including dinner, entertainment, and educational presentations – designed to build awareness about post-traumatic stress for both First Responders AND their spouses.
Unfortunately, event organizer Jo Terry recently received yet another brutal reminder about the urgent need for that awareness.
It came via a phone call from the wife of a firefighter in northern Ohio who – on Easter Sunday – killed himself.
“No one diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder – and I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say for sure that’s what he suffered from – but obviously there were a bunch of missed signs,” Terry said. The bottom line, she said, is “another career firefighter gone.”
Jo Terry knows that grief intimately.
Her husband, former Assistant Covington Fire Chief Chip Terry, lost his own struggle with PTS four years ago this month. His family said he had long struggled to find peace following a 26-year career that – as he described earlier in a speech to City officials in honor of his retirement – brought him face to face with an exhausting array of horrific and haunting tragedies.
In response to his death, Terry’s family created The Chip Terry Fund for First Responders and took on the mission of educating people about PTS and making sure those who are struggling find and secure help.
This year’s event – the fourth-annual – is designed as a couples event to recognize the need to bring that awareness to spouses of First Responders and also recognize the impact of repetitive trauma on families, Jo Terry said.
“I’ve given 25 seminars this year, and every event has ended with a firefighter coming up to me and saying ‘my spouse needs to know this,’ ” she said. “As spouses, we see the changes that they don’t recognize and too often we’re not educated enough about PTS to understand what’s going on. The first line of defense for firefighters is their spouse.”
About Friday’s event
The event Friday is open to firefighters, police officers, emergency dispatchers, military personnel, even ER nurses – “anybody who is in that kind of work” – and their spouses, Terry said.
It includes a cocktail reception and dinner and takes place at Covington Latin School. It has spots for 200 people and about half are filled. To buy tickets and for details, see HERE
The emcee is Jason Patton, a Florida firefighter known as the creator and face of Fire Department Chronicles, which uses social media to bring awareness to PTS through a light-hearted approach.
Terry herself will give a clinical-based presentation on post-traumatic stress, its signs and impact, and discuss available resources. She said the event is certified to meet the annual requirement for training hours.
She said the organization has traveled to numerous states – including Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio – to conduct seminars for both paid and volunteer departments, which it sometimes does for free.
Using those fees and donations, it has helped provide in-patient care to over 20 First Responders and out-patient care and/or resources to over 65 people.
Covington Fire Chief Mark Pierce, who knew Chip Terry since high school and worked with him for decades both as a firefighter and outside the department, said the issue is timely.
Shortly after Terry’s death, Covington created a Behavioral Health and Wellness Committee to focus on PTS.
“It’s very important to us, and we try to be pro-active, to recognize the signs and catch cases and do something to help before it reaches the crisis stage,” Pierce said. “This seminar complements what we’ve been trying to do.”
# # #