MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. -
Local first responders looking for help and support now have a place to find it. President and Chaplain of Star of Life Ministries Richard Blankenship said, "Each person, I'm sure, has struggled emotionally somehow."
Right now, across the nation, police and emergency personnel are working under a microscope. Cases of alleged violence, brutality, and unfairness are in the spotlight while people in uniform continue clocking in every day for some of the most scrutinized and stressful jobs.
A paramedic and an emergency medical technician in our area have created a new organization to help people, like themselves, who help others for a living. Star of Life Ministries is stepping up at a time when first responders are working under extra pressure.
They're usually the first people who show up to help, but the men and women who fight fires or clear crash scenes can be the last to ask for help themselves. Blankenship said, "I think it's time for attention to be brought to this." He said working as an EMT in Carlisle County made him realize there aren't a lot of resources available for first responders when they need them. "Most anybody from any service has worked even one call, which is one call too many, for another service member who has died as a result of suicide, or addiction, or struggled somehow."
The stress and the trauma they see on the job on top of recent national criticism can take a toll emotionally and mentally. "With all this extra scrutiny, there's all this extra stress." Blankenship said Star of Life can provide spiritual solutions and connect people with other organizations that fit their needs. "Even though we are a Christian-based ministry, we try to help people through all avenues."
The ministry was created just a few weeks ago, and Blankenship said it couldn't wait. "The sooner, the better, because the more time you wait... there's really no time to lose."
Blankenship created Star of Life with Shannon Johnson, who is a paramedic in Carlisle County. Right now, they provide motivational and support services, but their goal is to become a tax-exempt group so they can collect donations and then dole that money out to first responders who may need it. Next week the two organizers will take a trip from western Kentucky as far west as New Mexico to make connections with emergency services all in between.
One of their long-term goals is to create a scholarship for first responders, service members, or their families.