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I was dismayed by the Bangor City Council’s vote against ARPA funding for the Bangor Fire Department. As a psychologist who works with many first responders and health care workers, I’m deeply familiar with the pain that results from exposure to horrific scenes that no one should have to witness. The pandemic exacerbated the isolation that first responders often experience — it separated them from loved ones, exposed them to a deadly virus, and led them to witness needless deaths.
Firefighters bravely shared with councilors their struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We know that trauma’s effects can be mitigated when a family or community acknowledges the trauma and gives sufferers the support they need. In this task, the city has failed. I am grateful to Councilors Dan Tremble, Cara Pelletier, Dina Yacoubagha, and Joe Leonard for voting to support our firefighters. I am hopeful that we ultimately can give them the support they so deeply deserve.