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Chaplains help firefighters cope during pandemic

Virus adds stress to pressure-filled job
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Posted at 8:43 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 14:18:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A team of chaplains from the Rock Church is working overtime during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the people helping the rest of us get all the help they need.

"Studies are clear that when people go through a horrific crisis, it takes them to the core of their core values, their beliefs," says Chaplain Mickey Stonier. "That's why chaplains are very significant."

Stonier leads a team of 120 chaplains through the church. He says the added pressure of the virus, coupled with the usual stress of the job, is taking its toll on firefighters and paramedics. He says the chaplains are there to help them deal with the mental and emotional trauma.

"These are trained individuals in crisis intervention," says Stonier. "They're available to listen to people and provide guidance on how to care for themselves, how to care for others and, then help people with their next steps."

The chaplains are fielding hundreds of texts and phone calls each day. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Colin Stowell says they're an essential part of the response to the virus.

"This is a stressful time, certainly, for our first responders," says Chief Stowell. "The things they're exposed to, they're concerned for their own health. But they've got another stress, and that is the health and safety of their family members as well.

"Our chaplains can provide them with resources, provide them with education and reassurance of their need in the public and how we can best keep our family members safe."

More than anything, Stonier says they can provide hope.

"People are fearful and sometimes a little anxious," he says. "It's great to have a calming presence to support people at times like this."