FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's first responders are learning to cope, in a healthy way, with the stress and trauma that comes with protecting the community.
The City of Fresno unveiled its Public Safety Wellness Center in southeast Fresno almost two years ago.
Since the opening, Fresno firefighters and police officers have found a safe space to get wellness support.
"We're expected to be robots, expected to go to call to call to call to call -- no matter what the call is," explained Jesus Cerda, FPD Employee Services Coordinator. "Well that trauma, that both our departments are experiencing, has an effect on our folks. It's tearing them down."
Whether it be physical or mental support, the Public Safety Wellness Center has had thousands of first responders walk through its doors.
According to Cerda, the Quiet Room has seen a lot of tears from first responders, who talk to peer supporters or clinicians about traumatic calls they've responded to.
"A lot of times, it's surrounded by death, either a death of a child. Those, for some reason, we have a lot of those here," Cerda said.
The wellness center also includes a large classroom, where first responders debrief following a critical incident.
According to Battalion Chief Devin McGuire, the partnership between both city departments has been beneficial.
"When you come into these debriefings and you recognize people -- I can speak for myself personally. In the middle of the night, on a call, ran into an officer: 'Hey, how are you? Good to see you. Everything good?' Just kind of making that connection and that bond," he said. "I think that speaks volumes to what this has done, because we were two different organizations working in silos for a long time."
McGuire and Cerda are happy to see their departments recognizing the need and value of the center's team. When critical incidents happen, the group gets called almost immediately - as those already on scene know support services will be needed for crews.
"It's been wonderful watching this small project grow to what it is now," Cerda expressed.
McGuire added: "This is getting traction and people are recognizing that this is a place for people to come and have that opportunity to meet with somebody that provide them the resources that they're looking for."
The two are excited for the center's future. They are hoping to add a full-time clinician so there's someone on site -- ready to help at all times.