News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Dec. 10, 2012
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- They come from all over Aiken County, Edgefield County and some from even farther.
"Few more mountains but very close-knit," said Cpt. Mitchell "Skee" Barley of Beckley, W. Va., where he drove from.
Barley is chaplain at the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office in West Virginia. Think of the training as emotional first aid lessons for officers, firefighters and their families to help out in their times of need.
Just like this area, Mitchell's home has seen recent tragedy, too. In August, two troopers with the West Virginia State Police were shot and killed by a suspect pulled over for driving recklessly.
"[Another trooper is] down here with me, a chaplain from the state police, and we had help from South Carolina during that time," he said.
Now, Support 1, the organization offering this training, is getting more local officers, firefighters and EMTs certified to help their co-workers, if and when they have to. However, there's a wider effect that touches the whole community.
"If you were to call on the assistance of a police officer or firefighter or an EMT, you want them to have a clear mind when they come to work, and a lot of times, especially the guys, they take a lot of this home," said Sgt. Chris Chavous with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who founded Support 1 more than a year ago.
Chavous says he was personally hurt by this area's recent losses. He was a personal friend of Officer Scott Richardson and Cpl. Sandy Rogers of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. Both were shot and killed about a year ago. Richmond County Deputy J.D. Paugh also lost his life to a gunman.
However, Support 1, which pays for this expensive teaching with donations, covers a wider spectrum.
"It can be anything from a police officer or firefighter or an EMT that's just witnessed a child die, to an officer killed in the line of duty, to a firefighter injured in an auto accident," Chavous said.
They're all things that can emotionally drain a first responder, but Support 1 wants to combat that through training one officer, one firefighter, one agency at a time.
There was a scheduling conflict for this session, but eventually, Georgia counties will also be involved.
Chavous says they'll hold that class possibly early next year. Of course, they still accept donations to front the bill for this important training that would usually cost thousands of dollars.