We’re pleased to introduce The Station Pride Journal of Firefighter Research & Wellness. We will be publishing journal articles reporting our findings and conclusions drawn from data collected with the Station Pride Firefighter Survey that took place between September of 2016 and January of 2017. Ten Thousand Firefighters took the voluntary survey. An image preview is provided below, or you can download the PDF file under “Download”
Post-traumatic stress disorder has jettisoned its way to the forefront of firefighter health and wellness in recent years. It is a problem that hits home for a substantial populous of the United States Fire Service, and for good reason. According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (2016), PTSD and its underlying consequences have taken the lives of at least 131 firefighters and EMS workers in 2016 alone (Dill, 2016), and that’s only in the United States. This figure sadly includes my senior man and partner of the last 5 years.
The fire service as a whole has done an exceptional job of identifying and educating its membership of the problem, but the time has come to look inward. We must ask ourselves an even more taxing question. Are we responsible for creating and perpetuating the growing epidemic of PTSD and suicide in the fire service?
This question takes its’ roots in the ever developing process of fire service recruitment. Nationwide we dangle before aspiring professionals the bounty of solid pay, great benefits, and an overall culture of camaraderie and family. We sell the position of firefighter from the same platform as white collar business and industry, and we veil our sales pitch behind the shroud of our pop culture image, one that perpetually emphasizes the miracle save and the happy ending, the affluent and beautiful world of the Hollywood fire service where everyone goes home safe and suffering only last for 30-90 minutes (with commercials). Are we selling our future recruits a lie?
The truth is the members of the fire service live in a dark and complex world, one tucked away beneath the surface, where the majority of society will never venture to look. It’s not just the gore and the death; but the abuse, the poverty, and the barrage of sickness, pain, and suffering that will span nearly a lifetime; or at the very least a 20-30 year career.
We Are The Sin Eaters
We as firefighters are the ‘Sin-Eaters,’ tasked with stepping beyond the light of the world into the dark corners where few people choose (or even know) to look. We do this by choice, each and every one of us, and we bear the responsibility of what we see, hear, and smell. We do this, willingly, because as firefighters the public has entrusted us to be strong, calculated, and decisive where others can not because in doing so we ever so often have the opportunity to do something truly remarkable…save a life.
The most important takeaway of this concept is that we do this by choice. We expose ourselves by choice. However, in failing to paint an adequate picture of what we do for our future recruits, we have taken away from them the opportunity to look inward, and to truly ask themselves if they are prepared for what we are tasked with doing. How can we expect to mitigate the problem of PTSD and suicide in the fire service if we first fail to prepare those we recruit for the realities of what we do in the first place?
The first step in combating PTSD in the fire service is to ensure we take on the responsibility of recruiting those who are mentally prepared and discouraging those who are not. If we continue to fail in this respect, the responsibility of their disease or their death rests squarely at our feet, because we are the ones who brought them in under false pretense. The dark side of the fire service should be no less transparent in fire department recruitment, than the fact that we run into burning buildings.
After The Pitch
It is critical that the recruitment process be retooled in order for PTSD in the fire service to truly be mitigated, but it must also extend beyond recruiting, and into employment. The fire service as a whole is exemplar in educating its membership as to the existence of, and subsequent consequences of PTSD and psychological disorders. However, dissemination without resolution can manifest into a dangerous and detrimental environment.
In the age of digital information and social media, it is nearly impossible as a firefighter to log onto a
computer or smartphone without finding an email, memo, or social media post highlighting the prevalence of psychological distress within the fire service. Often these posts showcase a growing list of our brothers and sisters who have committed suicide or fallen victim to the grips of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
True to our nature as servicemen, we are quick to spread the word of this growing epidemic in our field. We are even quicker to honor those who have fallen. However, we are failing as an organization to reach beyond education, awareness, and mitigation to the real solution, prevention. Quite the opposite, we are (in fact) promoting the growth of the very problem we are trying so desperately to prevent.
We hire new members to carry on our profession and craft, and we have a responsibility to correct the massive misconceptions we have allowed to infiltrate the hiring and training process. Members are recruited under a false pretense of the mental stamina required of our position and subsequently saturated with education and information pertaining to PTSD, substance abuse, and suicide. Consequently, future generations of firefighters are taught to believe that the behaviors exhibited by those suffering from mental distress are the expected behaviors of persons in their position. This may very well be contributing to the 63% increase in reported firefighter suicides in the United States since 2012.
By over saturating our membership with information pertaining to this grave problem we are forcing them to ask the question “Is this how I’m supposed to feel?” Inevitably a portion of our members will manifest the ‘expected’ response. They will begin to believe that they are expected to be haunted by the things we do, see, hear, and experience because we as an organization have conditioned them to believe this response is ‘the norm”.
One of the greatest points of pride for firemen is the ability to handle an infinite number of situations that the general public could never even begin to imagine. We take great pride in the responsibility of being asked to mitigate any situation that our crews are tasked with resolving, and doing so in a manner that is calm, calculated, and professional. This is one of the greatest traditions carried on the backs of firefighters for centuries, the ability to show up and help where no one else can. It is the very essence of why firefighters have been held in such high regard since the inception of the fire service. However, we have an obligation to maintain this image in the public eye, and we have an obligation to staff our departments and apparatus with members who are prepared to be mentally strong when others can not. We as firefighters hold greater respect and dignity in the public eye than nearly any profession on earth, and the reason is simple, we are there when you need us. It is time for the fire service to move beyond education of PTSD and psychological wellness in the fire service, and to shift its focus towards preventative measures that begin at the recruitment process and build from a foundation of personnel who are prepared for the task that lies before them, who are prepared to show up and perform, fully aware that no one else is coming if we fail.
In 2014 while speaking to the concept of post-traumatic stress growth General James Norman Mattis stated that “while victimhood in America is exalted, I do not think that our veterans should join those ranks” (Mattis, 2014). I think the same should be true of nations firefighters. If we continue to tell our members that they are somehow damaged by what we do, it is only a matter of time before they come to believe this is true. However if we empower them with a sense of pride to be strong and courageous when others cannot, we will bread future generations of firefighters whom will rise to the call to serve their fellow man selflessly and without question, who will wear their battle scars with pride, as they tell a story of a life dedicated to the service of others.
This is our call to action for the fire service. We are not damaged, but rather forged in the fires of our craft to be stronger and more resilient than ever before, because we as firemen are called upon to exhibit this strength unwaveringly.
Mattis, James N. General “General Mattis on PTG.” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Jan. 2017. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Dill, Jeff, Captain. “What Are These Numbers? « Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance.” What Are These
February 4, 2017
Numbers? « Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, 01 Jan. 2017. Web.
06 Feb. 2017.
Plan for you, so we can plan for them.
Compartmentalization. It’s a big word, with huge meaning, bigger consequences and a humongous impact on our community. Now do me a favor and pump the brakes for a minute. First and foremost, emotional trauma and our day-to- day stressors pile up. They get us individually and can impact the department’s we serve. There’s a whole lot of cultural change happening right now in the fire service.
Who am I kidding? It’s built on change – but one thing undoubtedly remains the same. The calls keep coming in, and we keep going out. We drop our tools, meals, and jokes in the house and leave them behind to go out the door to help someone else. It’s what we do, and we do it pretty well as a service. Gordon Graham once said, “Whatever you’re doing, do it well and get it done.” I find this to be quite true regardless of the emotional weights we carry every day with us.
The big question on my mind, and hopefully yours, is who is watching your back? I have concluded that I have learned a lot from several people that influence me in my career; some of which are my dad, my peers, and the probies that have come after me.
Just from my experience, the calls stack up and will get you at some point. Your reason might be different than mine, but stay with me for a second and make your own analogy. For me, it was one call that did it and like many of you, I didn’t know it at the time.
To paint the picture for you, the call summed up was as such; two-vehicle accident, multiple entrapped, three kids ejected, and there were three of us on the first due – and we were it…for 10 minutes.
We all have this call. It got me six months down the road one day when I saw one of the kids at the grocery store. I talked to my old man about it. He’s been in the service for 35+ years now, and he leveled his call with me. The canvas for his looked like this; single-wide trailer, fire blowing out hard upon arrival. He was on the first due engine which arrived directly after the Battalion Chief dispatched. They stretched a line, forced the door, and then found a family of five stacked up directly behind that door. The crew let the BC know over the radio, who said something along the lines of, “We ain’t fighting no fires today, everyone come forward to do CPR.”
There were three kids in the family…one of them looked exactly like me.
We all have this call. It got my dad the next morning when he saw me coming off shift. All of us have a duty to ensure that everyone on our shift goes home. Making a point about that to the next generation is absolutely necessary, and talking about the stressors, trauma, or your “call” to the current generation is just as important. What I want you to do now is ask yourself if you have someone to talk to. Then ask yourself who your buddy has to talk to. Then ask yourself who the probie has to talk to. It is important to have someone you can call at midnight because something’s bothering you. It’s important to be open about it with yourself as well. Find yourself that battle buddy and make sure that everyone on your crew, young and old, has one.
Now back in my day, we still had dogs in the house for the horses, and so, the firehouse dog was born and brought into the fire service. What I’m about to say, I understand, that there are departments that have policies against dogs in the station, however, I’m just giving you another tool in the toolbox. Studies have overwhelmingly shown that what we do is stressful, and takes the cake as the most stressful job out there. Studies have also shown that spending time with dogs reduces stress levels on a physical and mental scale. I want you to think about introducing a furry friend to the family, maybe not a station dog, but one that you and your crew can all see together on a fairly regular basis. I find that it helps me get through the day-to-day things that pile up on me.
It is my hope that in reading this, it might help you too. So next time you sit down after calls with your crew, and a cup of coffee in hand, bring a furry friend to hangout with and let them watch your back for a change.
Many of us are social people; we are a family, as you very well know. Day-to-day we tend to compartmentalize, though. The little things build up and can knock us off our game. My hope is that by being open and having a plan in place for ourselves, we will be prepared for when the little things have piled too high or “that call” hits you. In my mind, it’s just one logical thing to do to keep us a little bit sane. Think about it, talk to your crew, and make a difference for them and you.
After all, I am here for we, and we are here for them. Bump up and plan.
– Lt. Will “Grandpa” Parry
– State of Alaska
At 0846 Tuesday September 11th, the United States took a hit on the north tower of the World Trade Center. At 0903 a second passenger airliner slammed into the south tower.
The Battalion Chief assigned to Battalion 1 witnessed the impact of the plane from the corner of Church and Lispenard Streets. He immediately signaled a second alarm and proceeded to the World Trade Center. En route, B1 requested additional resources by transmitting a third alarm at 8:48 a.m.
I was driving to school for the first time, the attacks happened the day after my 16th birthday. Anybody that has followed me personally on Station Pride knows I’m 4th generation. I was born into this. I’m bred to help people. Even as early as 1995 when I was 9 years old, I could feel the urge to help the victims of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. I’ve had the desire to serve my entire life it feels like.
My story isn’t much different than many firefighters around the world. Almost all firefighters know when that switch flipped, they remember when they made that decision to pursue what I personally believe is the greatest career there is.
We watched TV the whole day at school on 9/11. I witnessed on national TV as the second plane turned and slammed into the building. It wasn’t until 2005 that my fire service career started, and when it started I was in the generation of firefighters that were labeled the “post 9/11 firefighters”. That label has driven me for years, to prove throughout my career thus far that I am in this for more than the firefighter title. I did not start this career to get the attention we all saw the FDNY receive after they lost so many brothers in one single incident. It has driven and motivated me for 10 years now.
In 2013 I found and decided to attempt the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. 110 floors, full gear and SCBA. Climbing with 343 firefighters, 70 police officers. It’s a humbling experience too because no matter how prepared you think are, it’s not enough. The stair climb starts early in the morning. Participants get to the staging area early, get signed in and then get unto their groups. It’s eerie quiet at first, at the base of the 55 floor building we’ll be climbing. As the crowd grows we all begin to either relax or our nerves make us start to get “loose” meeting fellow brother and sisters. A little closer to start time we dress in our gear, just like we do day in and day out but this time it’s different. This time it’s for a cause and it’s emotional. When it’s time we walk out of the staging area. We gather in the street at the base of the building and we listen to speakers, we pray, we say the pledge. We wave and take pictures. Then it starts.
The goosebumps hit, the nerves in your gut get a little worse and your eyes get a little wet. The group piles into a line, we circle in front of the stage the speakers were just on, make a left and then we have an opportunity to lay a hand on a piece of red iron from one of the towers. That water in your eyes get a little thicker, there’s a ball in your throat fighting for space with your heart in the same place, the pipes and drums still playing, right next to you. You can feel the drums in your chest.
As you pass the red iron from the tower you enter the building. That’s the last time most of the people there to support “their firefighter” will see them until the end. That’s when it hits you that you aren’t doing this for you, your climbing because they climbed. FDNY firefighters climbed and climbed, floor after floor helping people out of those towers. Climbing further to reach the floors in which they had no idea if there were survivors or not. Without hesitation and unselfishly they climbed. Knowing full well the dangers, knowing the structural integrity has been greatly reduced. They climbed to help people they have never met before, and may never see again after a few moments in a stairwell. They climbed to their death, doing a job that is in the heart of every firefighter.
“We climb because they climbed.”
THE BIOLOGY OF SLEEP
Every person needs a different amount of sleep to awaken feeling refreshed. Individual sleep requirements are genetic and may be hereditary. Scientists consider six to 10 hours of sleep a normal range, with most people requiring 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. At least four to five hours of uninterrupted core sleep is necessary to maintain minimum performance levels. Sleep requirements may change slightly with age and can be affected by general health. Illness, stress, and depression cause the body to require more sleep to heal and recuperate.
WHAT IS SLEEP DEPRIVATION?
Sleep deprivation occurs when a person does not get sufficient amounts of quality sleep. Work demands, family life, and lifestyle choices may cause a person to sleep fewer hours than his body needs to maintain wakefulness and energy levels. In the Fire Service most of us to Shift work and have to interrupt the body’s natural wake/sleep cycle. Over time deprivation of sleep can have both an acute and cumulative effect on our bodies and minds.
THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION
Sleep loss is cumulative and creates a sleep debt. Larger sleep debts require greater amounts of restorative sleep to return the body and mind to normal, rested levels. Sleep deprivation affects mental processes and intellectual abilities. It reduces performance on challenging tasks and negatively affects psychomotor skills. Mood, productivity, and communication skills suffer. Extended periods without sleep may cause hallucinations and paranoia. Lack of sleep may slow glucose metabolism by 30 to 40 percent and increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to inadequate levels of the hormone leptin. Leptin signals the body to stop eating when it’s full. Decreased levels of leptin lead to increased carbohydrate cravings and eating.
“Physical and mental performances are not the only casualties of sleep deprivation. Even a minimal loss of sleep impacts general health. Chronic lack of sleep can contribute to serious health problems and even shortened lifespan. In a 1983 study at the University of Chicago, rats kept from sleeping became sick and died after two and a half weeks. Sleep-deprived rats that became ill but were then allowed to sleep, recuperated fully.”
Other effects of chronic sleep deprivation include:
• Adult-onset diabetes
•Menstrual and infertility problems
•Increased use of drugs and alcohol
•Impaired sexual function
•Less satisfaction in personal and domestic pursuits
•Increased appetite and weight gain
•Personality changes, particularly loss of humor and increased ill temper.
COUNTERMEASURES AND COPING STRATEGIES
“Firefighters need to get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep every off-duty night”
Quality sleep is the primary weapon in the battle against sleep deprivation. Firefighters must take advantage of opportunities for sleep, both on and off duty. Sleeping areas at home and at the fire station should be quiet and dark, and the room temperature should be cool. A comfortable, good-quality mattress is a must. Invest in comfortable bedding and pillows as well. Good sleep habits are essential. Firefighters need to get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep every off-duty night. Going to sleep and waking up at the same times every day, even on weekends, is important for maintaining the body’s natural rhythms.
Other tips for quality sleep include the following:
- Avoid eating, reading, and watching TV in bed.
- Restrict caffeine intake, and avoid caffeinated drinks at least six hours before bedtime.
- Eat healthful foods. Do not eat large meals within four to five hours of sleeping.
- Do not use alcohol to induce sleep. The effects of alcohol-induced drowsiness last only a few hours and cause poor-quality sleep.
- Avoid long-term use of over-the-counter sleeping pills. Habitual use can reduce effectiveness and lead to addiction.
- Reduce life stress as much as possible.
- Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress and invite sleep.
- Exercise, but not more than four hours before bedtime. For 24-hour shift workers, outdoor exercise during daylight hours can help the body maintain natural biological rhythms and increase sleep quality off-duty.
- Napping is an effective coping strategy that can be used in anticipation of a long night or during extended operations. Naps as short as 20 minutes can be effective. Two-hour naps during around-the-clock operations are highly restorative.
- Daytime sleep after a night shift is essential to staying well rested, but trying to sleep when the rest of the world is awake can be challenging at best. The shift worker must emphasize to friends and family the importance of restorative sleep. Go as far as having daytime sleep scheduled on the family calendar along with ballgames, school meetings, and other activities.
- Melatonin may help promote better sleep, particularly during the day. However, this supplement is not FDA-approved, and current research is contradictory on short-term and long-term effects.
- People who are regularly unable to sleep should consult their physicians to rule out underlying health problems. Doctors may also be able to prescribe medication to help with sleep. Sleep disorders can be aggravated by shift work. Shift workers with diagnosed sleep disorders need to work closely with their physicians to effectively manage their disorder.
A great insomnia program is available through Mindability. Please click on the link to learn more.
This article is provided as a service by FireStrong.org
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
How much you drink
can influence your chances
of becoming dependent
There is no known cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Research suggests that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, but which genes and how they work are not known. How much you drink can influence your chances of becoming dependent. Those at risk for developing alcoholism include:
- Men who have 15 or more drinks a week.
- Women who have 12 or more drinks a week.
- Anyone who has five or more drinks per occasion at least once a week.
- One drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of liquor.
- You have an increased risk for alcohol abuse and dependence if you have a parent with alcoholism.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
- Continue to drink, even when health, work, or family are being harmed.
- Become violent when drinking.
- Are not able to control drinking — being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake.
- Make excuses to drink.
- Miss work or school, or have a decrease in performance because of drinking.
- Stop taking part in activities because of alcohol.
- Need to use alcohol on most days to get through the day.
- Try to hide alcohol use.
- Memory lapses after heavy drinking.
- Needing more and more alcohol to feel “drunk”.
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t had a drink for a while.
The following questions are used by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to screen for alcohol abuse or dependence:
- Do you ever drive when you have been drinking?
- Do you have to drink more than before to get drunk or feel the desired effect?
- Have you felt that you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have you ever had any blackouts after drinking?
- Have you ever missed work or lost a job because of drinking?
- Is someone in your family worried about your drinking?
If you or somebody close to you is feeling the effects of alcohol abuse there are plenty of resources available. Please feel free to take one of the confidential and completely anonymous ASSESSMENTS to help you gauge where you may be in you use.
- ACCESS RESOURCES has many programs available.
- You can call also call our FIRE support crisis line for more resources.
- In addition, your medical insurance covers rehab and detox facilities.
- You can also access many substance abuse therapists to aid you along the way to recovery.
Have you heard of the Mind-Body Connection?
It is a term used to describe the interconnectedness between our emotions and our physical health.
When you are emotionally stressed or anxious, especially for a prolonged period of time, it often has a negative impact on your health. Numerous research studies have shown that stress can cause and/or worsen physical conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Back pain “physical injury, illness, or pain can impact your mood”
- Sleep problems (e.g. insomnia)
- Sexual difficulties
- Gastro-intestinal problems
- A weakened immune system
Likewise, you may have experienced first hand how a physical injury, illness, or pain can impact your mood. If our bodies are “sick”, we worry about a number of things including:
- How long it will take to get better?
- Will I have to go on light duty?
- Will I have to stop working out or limit my physical activity?
- Will I be a burden to those around me?
The Good News
The good news is that there are several things we can do to improve our mental and physical health when it comes to these matters. Relaxation techniques always help.
First, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious you can contact FireStrong.org Crisis Support Line 1-844-525-FIRE (3473).
If you want to hear more about how can work for you, follow this link to a podcast that explains the Mind-Body connection, and some strategies to calm your body and mind to prevent or eliminate physical symptoms. Autonomic Podcast
Next, the link below is to the American Psychological Association website that cites some fascinating research about the Mind-Body Connection. For instance, did you know:
- Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. (“The Stress Solution: An Active Plan to Manage the Stress in Your Life,” Lyle H. Miller, Ph.D. and Alma Dell Smith, Ph.D.)
- People with high levels of anxiety can have between two to seven times the risk of heart disease. (“Emotional Longevity: What Really Determines How Long You Live,” Norman B. Anderson and Elizabeth P. Anderson, 2003)
- Two-thirds of all office visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms (American Academy of Family Physicians)
Learn more about this research at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mind-body.aspx
- Stay Strong – Be smart about your body and your mind!
- Chances are high that this will directly affect you or a loved one during your lifetime !
As much as we like to think of ourselves as unbreakable, we break, and when we do it’s usually hard and fast. If this feeling of being in crisis comes we may not feel comfortable to reach out for support. It’s embedded in our DNA that we are firefighters and we are supposed to fix problems.
Our exposures to high stress calls and events have given us the ability to overcome our feelings and work through them. Over time we store up our issues until they may overflow into other parts of our life. Sure, we may use dark humor or sarcastic remarks to move past our own feelings and continue to do our jobs but what happens when the floor falls out from under us, and we or a friend needs help.
If we finally do decide to accept help we will need somebody we can trust. We will need to know what the help will look like. So if you or somebody you know is in crisis and you decide to ACCESS RESOURCES to get help. What can you expect to happen next?
‘What will a crisis intervention look like?’
Each program is different, but all professional licensed counselors adhere to regulations when it comes to crisis intervention. Crisis Intervention should not be confused with traditional Therapy or Counseling. Crisis Intervention is used in acute situations to assist those who are in urgent need of help.
- Their behavior constitutes a danger of inflicting serious physical harm upon oneself, including attempted suicide or the serious threat thereof, or if the threat is expected that it will be carried out.
- There is potential that the continued behavior can reasonably be expected to result in serious physical harm to others.
Behavior in which a person is likely to come to serious physical harm or serious illness because he/she is unable to provide for his basic physical needs.
- They are showing signs that they are suffering severe and abnormal mental, and emotional issues and that these issues are significantly impairing judgment, reason, behavior or capacity to recognize part of reality.
These four guidelines are reasons for a Crisis Intervention. It is after intervention and when the person is back to more stable that they would benefit from therapy or Counseling in hopes of creating a new healthy baseline.
A Crisis Specialist will ask a series of questions to identify relevant safety issues, and to assess if the person meets the criteria above. Some of these questions may seem intrusive when asked, but regulations dictate that the level of safety is assessed. Here are some sample questions to expect:
Safety Assessment Questions
- Have you had any thoughts or actions, now or in the past, to do anything to hurt yourself?
- Are you concerned about your ability to maintain your own safety?
- Is anyone else concerned about your ability to maintain your safety?
- What, exactly, are any thoughts you have had or are having to hurt yourself?
- Do you have a plan on what you would actually do to hurt yourself?
- Have you ever acted on these thoughts? What did you do?
- Regarding any past actions to hurt yourself, was your intention to hurt yourself, die, let someone know how bad things are?
- What were you trying to get away from or are you trying to get away from, by doing something to hurt yourself?
- How are you hoping hurting yourself/killing yourself will solve your problems?
- Do you have the means to hurt yourself? Do you have access to weapons or drugs?
- Has anyone in your family ever hurt themselves/committed suicide?
- What level of support do you have in your life?
- Are you willing to make a no-harm contract with me?
- Define the Problem. Explore and define the problem from the patient’s point of view. Use active listening, including open-ended questions. Attend to both verbal and nonverbal communications.
- Ensure Personal Safety. Assess lethality, criticality, immobility and seriousness of threat to patient’s physical, emotional and psychological safety. Assess internal impact as well as environmental situation.
- Provide Support. Communicate (by words, voice, and body language) a caring, positive, non-possessive, nonjudgmental, acceptant, personal involvement with the one in crisis and the family.
- Examine Alternatives. Assist in brainstorming choices available now. Search for immediate supports. These supports might include hospitalization or rehabilitation facility
- Plan. Develop a plan with your patient which: provides something concrete and positive for the patient to do now with definite action steps which the patient can own and comprehend.
- Ask the patient to verbally summarize the plan and commitment.
- Demonstrate your part of the commitment if you collaborate.
- Follow up on the patient’s performance or in obtaining assistance.
Click Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) to receive a FREE digital copy of suicide assessment guidelines put out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
For Help or more information on Crisis Intervention please visit FireStrong.org.
In the depths of my collapse, I found a relationship with God and began to help other alcoholics in the 12 step program and at the local hospital in Newport as a volunteer and eventually as a counselor/consultant to businesses in Rhode Island and two nearby states. My life of recovery and sobriety was aided by a strong Christian participation in the church and eventually led to a ministry as a pastoral counselor following a move to Florida in 1988.
In 1994 I established a Christian counseling ministry: Hope Ministries Inc.(hopeministriesflorida.org) in Palm Bay Florida, a ministry that focused on helping hearts heal for Christians who were struggling. I was ordained as a minister at the start of Hope Ministries and the ministry flourished. In late 2005 I began to desire the expansion our ministry to the workplace and a friend at the local Mental Health Center suggested that what I wanted was to be a workplace Chaplain.
I started offering a Chaplaincy to local businesses and enjoyed this work, but did not feel fulfilled because most of the businesses did not take the chaplaincy seriously. In the process, I had a flashback memory of the wonderful relationship that I had with the Newport Fire Department when I was on the City Council and it occurred to me that local fire departments might be interested in a serious commitment to Fire Chaplaincy.
I began introducing my self to several departments offering myself to be their Chaplain. Several departments showed interest in having me be their Chaplain but Chief Jon Macdonald of The Indialantic Fire Rescue Department actually invited me to be a member of their volunteer association and to be the Chaplain to the entire department that was a combination department. However, Chief Macdonald insisted that I take the Fire I class to be eligible for certification as a Fire Fighter if I wanted to be his Chaplain.
So, at 65 I took the full Fire I class. The Chief said it would be all right if I could not complete all the physical requirements because of my age. I took that as a challenge. The classroom instruction was very difficult for me because I am not mechanically inclined. However, at the end of the class I had passed everything including the physical requirements. Chief suggested that I take the test for state certification which I passed with great help from God and so I began to ride Engine 57 on emergency calls and grew to love being a volunteer firefighter as well as serving as Chaplain. All of the members of our department welcomed me as their Chaplain and as a volunteer Fire I firefighter.