AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) - Stress - it’s real and it kills. That’s just one message Dr. Mac Bowman stresses to first responders.

He said it surprises a lot of people that first responders are among the highest risk group for cardiovascular death because they’re the people who work so hard to save us.

“They are tremendously prone to be stressed professionally, as well as family-wise, as well as personally,” said Dr. Mac Bowman.

William Womack has been with Augusta Fire Department for 32 years. He’s seen a lot of things he carries around on every call, including his very first fire death.

“It was in December of 1987 and I remember crawling in that house and face to face with that little girl in the hallway. She was dead, her dad was in the next room, he was dead," Womack recalled.

The emotional roller coaster takes a toll on Randy Clewis, a law enforcement officer for the past 20 years. He learned valuable techniques to release emotional attachments from the past.

“She had us close our eyes and we actually imagined ourselves coming out of our body and looking at, what they call our timeline of birth to now and leading to the future,”

Dr. Faye Hargrove, PhD showed them how to look at the different activities they’d been through - from childhood to now - as files. Participants focused on the emotion and released it.

“It was like hitting a delete button on the computer and it was just amazing that it worked that fast,” Womack marveled.

Dr. Bowman said, in addition to controlling stress, regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough rest can help reduce and resolve heart health.

Participants got a cardiovascular health screening along with ultrasounds. In addition to this free event, Dr. Bowman gives back to the community with his Horizon Foundation that supports children’s charities in the CSRA.

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