We will soon be entering the second year of our “Operation Zzz” weighted blanket program. This program began as a partnership with Stacy Green, a Charleston County paramedic, Marci-Jo Mishoe of the Lowcountry Fire Wives, our Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team, and the Steinberg Law Firm in Goose Creek, South Carolina to provide weighted blankets for our firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, and our 911 telecommunicators. Each of these blankets is handmade by Marci-Jo or Stacy in Summerville, South Carolina.
In a counseling setting, we often assist first responders who report sleep difficulties caused by the effects of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. These folks report that they first realized they needed to seek counseling assistance because of these sleep disorders. We researched what we could do as a counseling team to help alleviate the difficulties of sleep deprivation. During one of our Team’s outreach programs in support of our Lowcountry Autism Walk, we came across a pamphlet that explained how these blankets were used with autistic children to calm their anxiety. We had not heard of them being used with first responders but, with some follow-up research, we found that they were indeed used in hospitals to help calm patients experiencing anxiety.
So, our “Operation Zzz” program came to life in early 2017. The results have been amazing as we regularly receive testimonials from those who have benefited from their use. Small lap-size blankets have also proven effective for our 911 telecommunicators to place across their laps or drape around their shoulders to lessen anxiety when taking difficult calls. Recently, we have also been providing our lap blankets to the clinicians of our Team to use in their counseling sessions with those who are experiencing anxiety during their therapy visits.
To date, we have provided the full-size blankets to over 160 firefighters, EMS personnel, law enforcement officers, and 911 telecommunicators. We have also provided our lap blankets to 20 different 911 centers for use by their telecommunicators while on duty with a goal to place them in all 46 counties’ 911 centers in our state.
Donations to support the continuation of our ‘Operation Zzz” program are appreciated and can be made at our “Donate link” at www.firefightersupport.org.