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Murray Journal

Helpers who help first responders honored

Nov 29, 2018 03:03PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Congressman Chris Stewart (top row center) presented awards to Murray Police Department Deputy Chief Joe Tarver, Murray City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jordon Petersen, and Dr. Adam Balls (front row, 3rd, 2nd, 1st from right) (Photo courtesy Ten4 Responding)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

Toughness is expected, but grief is not — such is the expectation of many police, firefighters, veterans, and EMTs. 

Yet grief caught former Murray resident Mike Stevens off guard. After too many sleepless nights caused by responding to numerous traumatic scenes while with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, Stevens found himself facing a loaded revolver—his own hand pointing it toward his head.

“I’d been down that road one time before.... I knew if I didn’t get help for my PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] I would surely end up in the same place,” said Stevens.

Nobody would have guessed the Cottonwood High graduate had contemplated suicide. His outgoing demeanor and cheery confidence certainly hide many deep-seated emotions. Fortunately, Stevens found help, and those helpers were recently honored for their work by the non-profit organization Ten4 Responding. 

On Nov. 3, Ten4 Responding and the Murray Chamber of Commerce hosted a Veteran and First Responders Suicide Awareness banquet to honor Murray City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jordon Petersen, IMC Emergency Room Physician Adam Balls, and Murray Police Department Deputy Chief Joe Tarver for their efforts in supporting mental health and resiliency. 

First responders are exposed to incidents involving death, gruesome injury, poor decision making, abuse, and suicides. The toll this takes on their mental health can cause depression, anxiety, PTSD and, like Stevens, suicidal thoughts and actions.

Murray City Fire Chief Jon Harris said, “We understand suicide is a concern for our nation. Ten4, which most people recognize among the military and first responder communities, is ‘mutual understanding.’ Thus, Ten4 Responding means that we have a mutual understanding and are responding to the suicide epidemic in Utah and our nation.”

Proceeds from the event will fund mental health services for first responders. The public was invited to nominate a veteran, firefighter, police officer, EMT, business or student leader who has had an impact on suicide awareness or has promoted mental health and resiliency. 

Adam Balls is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who is a Medical Director for Intermountain Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center, the largest emergency department in the State of Utah. He also works as medical director for Murray Fire Department. An Air Force veteran, he served as a team leader for a critical care aeromedical transport team on deployments to Iraq, Germany, and Afghanistan.

Jordon Petersen is a battalion chief with 12 years’ experience with Murray Fire Department. With a doctorate in psychology, Petersen is a national presenter on first responder mental wellness as well as an instructor at the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy on the subject.

Joe Tarver was appointed deputy chief of Murray Police Department in 2014 by Chief Craig Burnett. Tarver has a sociology degree from the University of Utah and has worked with police officers in developing stronger mental resiliency. 

Ten4 Responding is part of Honor365, a nonprofit organization. Honor365 was established July 1, 2017, with the purpose of honoring a veteran every day. The Honor365 team believes every veteran is worthy of being recognized for their service.  Their only criteria for being honored is that a veteran has honorably served their country. They can be living or since passed.

Stevens has also reached out to his fellow first responders. “I made a video with help from my stepson, encouraging other first responders, police, and military to shrug off the stigma and go and get the help they need; and if it isn’t for yourself, then do it for those that have stood by you and supported you. If it helps only one person, then it was worth it.” 

His video can be found online at youtu.be/AVTOYDEaiIo.