An announcement of a new effort to help Alaska's first responders who may be struggling from trauma they see on the job, is generating recognition from both the Anchorage police and fire departments.

"This will definitely save lives. But it not only saves the life itself but also the quality of life so that our people are not suffering for the rest of their lives before they pass away. So thank you very much," said Anchorage Fire Chief Jodi Hettrick on Tuesday.

"We very much appreciate that opportunity to having that kind of service here in our hometown," said Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll.

The Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital opened in 2015 in Anchorage. So far, it has treated around 500 service members and veterans with issues such as addiction and PTSD. On Tuesday, the facility announced it's opening up the facility to others.

"It is with great honor today that we will be extending our services to first responders," said Elke Villegas, Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital administrator.

Emergency responders say the type of specialized care that the hospital provides is hard to come by in Alaska. In some cases, first responders from Alaska must travel to the Lower 48 for care, which can be expensive and takes the responder away from their families. 

Retired AFD Chief Craig Goodrich says he has seen the difficulties that trauma in the field can have on front-line rescuers. On Tuesday, he talked about a phone call he got from a paramedic who kept dealing with the deaths of babies.

"Said Chief I'm transporting this SIDS to Regional Hospital and I want you to pick me up because I quit. And I went over; both paramedics quit," said Goodrich.

Anchorage Fire Department Captain John Paff knows the stresses of the job. He is a retired Air Force para-rescuer and longtime firefighter with AFD. After abusing alcohol, he ended up asking for help and getting it. Paff says he is glad that the Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital is now available for other first responders who struggled like he did.

"I probably would have continued on with the substance abuse to the point of self-destruction or harming someone else, maybe even suicide," said Paff.

Anyone who may need help can call the Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital at 907-258-7575 or at 1-800-478-7575. The email is

WATCH BELOW: Alaska Police and Fire Chaplain Diane Peterson joined KTVA 11 Evening News on Tuesday night to discuss the importance of getting help for first responders. 


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