FAMU Faculty Member Supports First Responders’ Mental Wellness 

September 30, 2022
FAMU Faculty Member Supports First Responders’ Mental Wellness 
FAMU Faculty Member Supports First Responders’ Mental Wellness 

On top of the efforts of FSU’s drone team, Kellie O’Dare, a FAMU assistant professor in the Institute of Public Health, has also made her way down to southwest Florida with the Tallahassee Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team and Peer Support Team. 

With O’Dare also being the director of the 2nd Alarm Project, which is a grant initiative through FAMU that primarily works with the Tallahassee Fire Department, she will be assisting first responders with their mental wellness as they work throughout the affected areas.

"We're headed down there as we oftentimes get deployed with first responders to these types of incidents,” O’Dare told the Democrat Thursday afternoon as she traveled to Orlando. “Whenever there's a critical incident that involves first responders responding, we go to ensure that their emotional and psychological needs are taken care of.” 

Similar to FSU’s drone team, O’Dare has worked at the Surfside building collapse that occurred last year to provide mental health services to first responders. She also assisted them at Bay County to help them navigate their mental health while they dealt with recent wildfires in Florida's Panhandle.

O’Dare and the fire department teams are staged in Orlando before dispersing to disaster zones that include Lee County, where Fort Myers is one of the cities that has been hit the hardest by the hurricane.

The deployments of the first responders typically last 10 to 20 days during the search and rescue process, with their tasks being highly demanding and highly stressful, O’Dare says.

But she looks forward to the team getting the job done despitethe dangerous conditions that the storm left behind. 

“We have high hopes that they're going to be able to rescue people and reunite them with their families and with their loved ones, and we will be supporting them during their efforts by making sure they have all their needs met,” O’Dare said.

This is an exerpt of an article that orginally appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on 9/30/2022