I was listening to Kern county fire traffic during french fire I-A and I caught the traffic for an unrelated medical call that hit home on a personal level, I myself have thought about it. Talking about how you feel mentally is a hard thing to do. Remember you’re not alone. If you need someone to talk to there’s plenty of us out there willing to listen.
And if you’re not comfortable using your agency’s resources (and I think most of us aren’t, for various very valid reasons) you may wanna check out https://www.laurenrich.net — she’s got a number of resources, and she specializes in treating male first responders and veterans, which surely applies to a huge percentage of us here.
Seriously — you’ll probably know within 3.2 seconds of looking at her site if she’s gonna be useful to you…
Been there, done that and ive got the “t-shirt” to prove it! Alex & BrushSlasher are beyond awesome to open up & share this conversation in a forum like this. Since you’re name droppin i must chime in with a resource that saved my life. Dr Anne Bisek’s number was given to me by Vicky Minor and she proved to be a home run - exactly who i needed to meet in my most desperate hour. Don’t judge her by her social media (or lack thereof) just know that as a USFS employee my entire 30yr career she was on point on every level. I might have been the 1st or one of the 1st federal wildlanders she helped but that didnt matter and i didnt notice. She’s got the tools & the skills i promise. My EAP was/is a joke for what i needed… https://doc911.net/
Sorry to hear your EAP didn’t work out for you. I can personally say the ESS, peer support teams and EAP for CalFire did me right when I needed, and used, it. For those of us in the southern area of CA, Mynda Ohs did wonders for me.
I know the Caldor Incident Base has an excellent ESS team in place to help. All one has to do is stop in and say ‘hi’.
So glad CAL FIRE is putting energy into mental health. I feel like there has been a real sea-change in past few years withpeople talking about how they are really doing. The past decade has been a real trauma-factory for people in our profession, and it seems like it’s pushed all of this right out in the open, where it has belonged from the get-go. No shame in it, keep those check-in calls and texts flowing!
Ashely Iverson has done alot with CALFIRE folks in RRU and MVU. If you need help reach out.
On the website there are alot of free resources to help you. After seeing what depression can do to someone and their family I highly encourge people to reach out and ask for help there is no shame in asking for help.
What is extremely hard for us first responders is that we show up on an incident, take command and handle the incident, but when we have something that needs to be taken care of for ourselves we do not handle it or are afraid to ask for help for ourselves. In other words we are great for asking for any resource we need for an incident; not so great at asking for resources for ourselves.
As BrushSlasher wrote we have all been in that dark place, sometimes more than once. Do not be afraid nor worry what your peers, spouses or family members think about you asking for help.
Here is another good resource:
Agree 100%. We are perceived as the “heroes” and are invincible, but truth is we are human and hurt just like the people we care for. That’s what got me, the 30+ years of death and destruction, plus a slower station and boom…ton of bricks fell. I’ve even made the call for one of my firefighters that wasn’t acting the same after a particularly decestaring incident. For everyone, please make the call at the first sign of change.
This is the agency CAL FIRE used to develop their training programs at Ione for every new permanent employee. I’ve attended their workshop as well. Good folks with some amazing tools for building up healthy ways to deal with this.
Sharing this since it may help someone…
Justin (Medic Captain at San Francisco FD) and Jason (Semi-retired Motorcop in the East Bay) have a frank and raw discussion with Robyn Mikel about her husband Eric’s suicide. He was an Alameda County firefighter that lost his battle with mental health and PTSD issues a couple years ago, and Robyn is on a crusade to raise awareness and save lives.
We’ve all run tough calls and had rough days, and we all have different capacities to deal with things, whether on our own or with support. It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay, and whether you just need a quick tuneup or an engine overhaul, there’s no time like the present to focus on your mental health. You deserve it, your families deserve it, and your crew deserves it.
What’s Your Emergency is a great podcast that I think most of us can relate to, and this episode in particular is well-worth a listen. Topics on the show run the gamut from kilts to books to games to finances to prostate health (seriously — get checked!) to bluegrass to… well, whatever strikes their fancy on a given day.
It’s kinda like if Roy and Johnny got together with Ponch and John to solve all the world’s problems, but with less disco and bell bottoms… check it out:
Be well and be safe, friends!