As the nation continues to observe Fire Prevention Week, one might be surprised to learn that not much help is offered to preserve their mental health. Fire fighters see a plethora of emergency situations that can take a toll on their mental health.
“Most folks who fight with it, it’s not a big one like a 9-11, God forbid. It’s a bunch of traumas. A bunch of things seen. It’s if you will, death by a thousand paper cuts” says licensed psychologist Andrew Berry.
“We know there’s a more and more scientific and medical evidence to show that that builds up,” said D’Alessandro.
John D’Alessandro of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York says there is a key factor that could provide the difference between life and death when you are working as a team, and you are only as strong as your weakest link.
“The first and most important thing on a path to getting over experience a traumatic event is talking about it,” said D’Alessandro.
Chief Gregory of the Albany Fire Department saying that the department is very proactive in the training, safety and well-being of its firefighters. The department has a peer support team to effectively recognize and respond to another firefighter or family member who is experiencing emotional or physical symptoms to acute high stress incidents. There are three goals in place to help mitigate things like PTSD and other mental health issues.
1. Advocating recognition and awareness of mental and emotional wellness
2. Provide resources to members and their families during personal and professional crisis
3. Liaison between members and support resources
“it’s a complicated problem but at the same time it’s a simple problem it’s complicated in the sense it that it manifests itself differently in different people,” said D’Alessandro.
FASNY telling NEWS10 in the next couple of months they plan on an extensive overhaul in the process of seeking mental health help for fire fighters.
“It’s not a sign of weakness we have to get over that that you know what age-old image of a firefighter being made of granite,” said D’Alessandro.