“I WISH MY MIND COULD FORGET WHAT MY EYES HAVE SEEN.”
UNDERSTANDING FIREFIGHTER BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Firefighters face trials few can imagine. The men and women on the front lines respond to catastrophic fires, mass shootings and every other type of horror.
They see horrific accidents. Children sometimes die in their arms. It can take its toll on the strongest of individuals. Among all occupations, only combat soldiers endure more stress than front line firefighters.
According to national research, roughly one in five firefighters in the U.S. and Canada suffer from a treatable post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). The effects of post-traumatic stress can be seen in an array of issues, from irritability and sleep deprivation to depression, family issues, substance abuse and … tragically, suicide.
Since 2014, more than 100 firefighters per year have committed suicide. That is more than have perished in on-duty incidents.
Post-traumatic stress is an irrefutable occupational hazard of being a front line firefighter. It is every bit as real a risk factor as job-related cancer. … and it is potentially as deadly.
California Firefighters … LEADING THE WAY
Since 2016, the California fire service … labor and management … has identified post-traumatic stress as the health and safety issue of the 21st Century for first responders.
California has led the nation in building resources and peer support at the local and state level to protect our protectors — a true partnership in support of those who pay the price every day.
Just a few examples among many …
STATEWIDE: Labor and management join to form California Fire Service Behavioral Health Task Force, which is in the forefront of the national conversation about firefighter behavioral health
LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Beginning in the 2000s, L.A. County establishes permanent peer support program, underwritten by L.A. County Firefighters and backed by LACoFD.
SACRAMENTO: Regional peer counseling program inaugurated through Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522.
OXNARD: Groundbreaking Suicide Awareness Training Program brings training to every firefighter in the department. The program will eventually go statewide.