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Personal Care Ambulance Charleston

Mindfulness training to help first responders deal with opioid crisis

Capt. Mark Strickland, EMS supervisor for the Charleston Fire Department, said he sleeps on his left side. Another firefighter and medic, Capt. Craig Matthews, said he normally faces north when he sleeps.

At least, those are the smart-aleck answers they give when asked how they sleep at night.

Steven Hicks, another Charleston firefighter, will tell you though, about how often he wakes up.

Hicks recently responded to the overdose death of a pregnant woman. She was six months along.

“That really messed with me,” he said. “I just had a baby. I didn’t understand how somebody could do that.”

“I’ll get up sometimes and check on my kid. ... Ever since that baby died, I get up more often now,” he said.

Hicks has been on the job less than two years. Overdoses, by now, are “pretty much second nature.”

“We don’t even talk about it anymore,” Matthews said. “Twenty years ago, if we had to give Narcan, we’d talk about it for a week.”