By Marilyn Tinnin
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
First Responders of Mississippi (FROM) is a 501(c)(3) organization that celebrates its official launch with a luncheon August 15 at The Hilton at 1001 E. County Line Road in Jackson. All proceeds will benefit First Responders and their families in their times of great need.
According to a 2017 report by CNBC, first responders fill the first five slots in the category of America’s ten most stressful careers. First Responders are trained to run TOWARD a critical event, and regardless of danger, gruesome circumstances, or traumatic injury, they put the needs of others above their own.
FROM was created to provide services for First Responders, whether the heroes themselves, their families, or their organizations in their greatest time of need—no matter the challenge.
First Responders are troopers, policemen, deputy sheriff, firefighters, and paramedics who—along with their families—often render huge personal sacrifices in the line of duty. They are their own “band of brothers and sisters” and FROM’s purpose is to be there with provisions when one of theirs has a need. Their areas of focus include:
▪ Life Saving Equipment
▪ Behavioral Health Prevention Education
▪ Behavioral Health Referrals, including Trauma, and Addiction-Related issues
▪ Disaster Relief for First Responders
Joseph (“Jody”) Rigby, president, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol (MHSP) where he served for 29 years.. He began his law-enforcement career in Collins, MS, as a policeman for 2 years. He then moved to Hattiesburg to work for the Hattiesburg Police Department, where he stayed for 3 years until he joined MHSP in 1980 to become a State Trooper. Over his 34 years of service, he had many an opportunity to observe and to experience the stress-related challenges and split-second life and death decisions that come with the job description and their passion.
It was after a distinguished Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agent, Lee Tartt of Grenada, lost his life in a hostage situation in 2016 that Jody and others went to work raising funds that would allow those affected by that horrible incident to seek professional help and resources to facilitate the healing process. Events like that one can not only produce PTSD in those who live through the experience, but affect everyone in that person’s orbit—coworkers, family, and friends.
First Responders have been trained to be the “strong one,” and sometimes that makes it harder for them to ask for help. But there are behavioral health options available that focus only on First Responders. As Jody says, “We want to help the helpers.” And that is the purpose of FROM. He wants to see such services made available all over the state so that all First Responders have the best resources possible when the need arises—no matter the need.
The event begins at 11:30 a.m., August 15, 2018 and will feature speakers Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Tuggle, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, and Dr. Antoine Keller. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available.
See www.firstrespondersofms.com or contact Joseph Rigby at firstname.lastname@example.org.