NAMPA, ID — First responders see the worst, and they see it first. But just like anyone: the tough stuff can take its toll. Now one Nampa Officer is working to make all first responders "emotional survivors."
Eight years ago Cpl. John Parsons thought he'd never see himself inside the four walls of Nampa Police Department again; working in a career that nearly left his daughters without a dad and his high school sweetheart without a husband.
"You know I knew being a cop could be dangerous but I had no idea this could be a possibility... There was a time after it that i thought, 'This isn't what I wanted to do. This isn't what I signed up for'... I talked to [my wife] about it and realized I like the job-- I loved the job. There's nothing else I'd rather do other than that."
Now, in front of his class full of new recruits, Cpl. Parsons bravely recounts the details of being shot in the face while serving a fugitive arrest warrant in Nampa in 2010.
"I literally thought it was a baseball bat at first. And I fell to the ground... I'm bent spitting out blood and teeth and bone and everything else."
Medics arrived on scene and rushed him to get care.
"I was able to make it to the hospital and overcome the injuries and come back to work."
Back to work-- only 4 months later!-- hungrier than ever to serve the city he grew up in.
"I wanted to do the hardest thing the Department offers-- and that was a selection for the SWAT team."
Corporal parsons continues to honorably serve as a Nampa Police Officer, School Resource Officer, and Tactical Response team member.
But while he may have healed physically, Cpl. Parsons says, for cops, the emotional aspect can be a whole other battle-- in some cases leading officers to suicide.
"How do you overcome that emotional stuff? How do you overcome it with your family?"
Now at Nampa PD and College of Idaho, he teaches an "Emotional Survival" class.
"You know whether you see a 2-year-old child dead from a car crash-- things like that-- that build up in your trauma trash can so to speak," said Officer Rodger Holscher, a recent transfer to the Nampa Police Department.
Cpl. Parsons teaches students to avoid bottling their emotions, and to speak out and get help.
"Cause everybody has these feelings, we're humans too, we're not robots," said Holscher.
So in the case of Cpl. Parsons-- let's just say he turned lemons into lemonade.
"It's motivation to become a better person, a better dad, a better officer, all those types of things," said Parsons.
Nampa Police Department provides free counselors for officers so they can get the help they may need, according to Cpl. Parsons.