As New Jersey continues to navigate the current COVID-19 health crisis, the sacrifices being made by front-line health and public safety workers cannot be overstated.

From the nurses and doctors who treat patients, to the EMTs, paramedics and firefighters who transport them, these men and woman put their own safety as risk to care for others.

There are no routine calls for New Jersey’s 36,000 police officers. Anyone they come in contact with could be infected. Corrections and sheriff’s officers as well as probation agents are dealing with their own dangerous situations.


FIRST RESPONDERS AND THE PANDEMIC: Thursday at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5 takes a special live look at the plight of first-respononders on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the resources available to help them through an extraordinary time. Listen Live on the 101.5 FM or the New Jersey 101.5 app. Join the conversation and ask your questions in a live chat at Facebook.com/NJ1015.


The physical and emotional toll is unprecedented. Among these front-line workers, there are already signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Even though these workers are in the health care and public safety field, trauma counselor Dr. Michael Bizzarro says many will not seek treatment. Some, he says, because they believe they are invincible and others because they fear the stigma of reaching out for help.

Bizzarro is among those experts we'll hear more from during Thursday's discussion.

Another fear is substance abuse. Some may turn to alcohol and/or drugs to help escape from the emotional trauma of dealing with so many sick and dying patients. For those in recovery, stress can trigger a relapse.

There is help available. In most cases it is anonymous, free and offered by those with a background dealing with first-responders.

If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, call 9-1-1.

The New Jersey Suicide Hotline is: 855-654-6735

New Jersey runs what is known as the New Jersey Disaster Critical Incident Stress Response program to address the of high-risk rescuers and first-responders.
According to the program's website, it provides confidential mental health services for police, fire, emergency medical services, construction workers, mental health professionals and clergy. It's funded by the American Red Cross 9/11 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program. Its providers are credentialed and trained in trauma and addictive behaviors, according to the program.

Its services are fully paid up to 12 sessions of psychotherapy for eligible individuals and/or couples.

The New Jersey Disaster Critical Incident Stress Response phone number is:  800-968-1242

The New Jersey State Health Department also offers a number of options:
Anyone in New Jersey can access help at njmentalhealthcares.org

The state also offers three hotlines for those in crisis. The following are the descriptions as provided by the state:

Crisis Text Line: Connect with a crisis counselor, trained in active listening and collaborative problem solving, helping to defuse a “hot” moment or a crisis. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TEXT: "NJ" TO 741741

NJ Mental Health Cares Hotline: For emotional support dealing with stress, anxiety and depression due to COVID-19, speak with a behavioral care specialist at 866-202-HELP (4357) daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CALL: 866-202-HELP (4357)

NJ Hopeline —  24/7 Peer Support & Suicide Prevention Hotline: Tpecialists are available for confidential telephone counseling and support 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You’re not alone … we are only a phone call away. CALL: 855-654-6735

For police officers and other in law enforcement, a number of options are available utilizing current or retired officers that have been specially trained to deal with those in the line of duty. They can help with stress, PTSD, substance abuse, suicide or other issues that may arise in the line of duty.

New Jersey’s Cop2Cop hotline is staffed 24/7 and is available to officers, spouses, partners, children, and friends. Call: 866-Cop2Cop (866-267-2267)

There is also a national police hotline staffed 24/7 with former law enforcement officers. Call: 800-COPLINE (1-800-267-5463)

The New Jersey Fireman’s Benevolent Association offers support and peer services through a dedicated team of firefighters able to assist firefighters in coping with the emotional fallout of a disaster or traumatic event. It does not have a 24/7 hotline, but services can be accessed by calling 732-499-9250.