Largo Commission Recognizes Police and Fire Department Chaplaincy Corps
by Bill Lopez
LARGO - At the Largo City Commission Workshop meeting Tuesday, Asst. Fire Chief Sgt. Michael J. Wallace introduced Senior Chaplain Paul Pierce of the Largo Fire Department who provided an overview of the Chaplaincy Corps program.
Currently the Police Department has one Chaplain and the Fire Department has five volunteer Chaplains who provide a variety of support services for the departments.
The Fire Department Chaplaincy Corps has operated since October 2001 and provides support to public safety personnel when they experience high levels of stress and uncertainty due to the tragedies they deal with.
Pierce said that not knowing what the next call will bring promotes interpersonal tensions both at work and at home and the Chaplaincy Corps seeks to alleviate these tensions though personal contact and counseling. He indicated that the position of Chaplain is demanding of trust and confidentiality that is needed in the lives of Largo's public safety personnel and their families.
Chaplains receive training to help safety personnel and regularly attend seminars to keep abreast of new information in the field. They are members of the Association of Critical Stress Management and FEMA. Besides prayer service and invocations at many pubic meetings, the Chaplains help with bereavements, hospital visits, notifications, referrals to agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, food banks, and local clergy. They provide help with anything that will provide emotional support to safety personnel and are available 24/7.
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