PHL17 Community Heroes: Local Treatment Center Puts Focus on First Responders

PHL17 along with Barb’s Harley-Davidson is setting out to honor local community heroes. This week, Mirmont Treatment Center was spotlighted for their Valor with Integrity Program for Emergency Responders.

Emergency responders put the welfare of others above their own safety every day, but have you ever wondered who helps the helpers?

Mirmont Treatment Center's Valor with Integrity Program for Emergency Responders, or VIPER, is a program focused on bettering the lives of those who save ours. Many times the trauma experienced on the job leads to physiological and emotional distress causing many first responders to turn to alcohol and drugs.

Police and law enforcement officials, correction and parole officers, firefighters, EMTs and combat veterans from all walks of life have entered the center's doors in Media, Delaware County.

"They give of themselves. They’re the first ones in, yet they hold things in. They don’t talk about it because they don’t feel people can really understand. In many cases, we can’t," said Mirmont's President Tom Cain.

Mike served in the military for six years and was also a volunteer firefighter in Maryland.

“If you try to express the way you feel and the things you’ve seen with someone who hasn’t been through them it’s more like they see it as they pity you and you don’t need that, you need the respect. You need somebody that understands, that’s been there," he said.

Mike joined the VIPER program in March 2016. For the first two weeks, he was silent.

"I still listened to everybody else to see what they would say and if it was okay. I still couldn’t believe it was okay to talk about these things.”

VIPER patients are a part of the larger treatment programs, but they meet 9 hours a week.

“They’re just ordinary people going through extraordinary circumstances on a daily basis. Here is a place with no judgement," said Behavioral Therapist Alyson Kessler.

One of the most difficult parts of seeking out treatment for many emergency responders is changing their role as a hero.

“We’re supposed to be the strong ones. We’re supposed to be the protector and we’re asking somebody else for their protection now. So for us to come, the whole idea of recovery is you have to surrender," said Mike.

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