Firefighters fighting PTSD

(KMSP) – They become firefighters to save lives, but what happens when, in their own minds, all they see is death?

Leaders within the fire community say the number of Minnesota firefighters experiencing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is alarming and more education is needed within the fire service to help those who are struggling with the heartache and tragedy seen while responding to calls for help.

Nationwide, it’s estimated between 18 to 30 percent of firefighters and paramedics have PTSD. Even at the low end, it’s a rate twice that of the general population and on par with military combat veterans.

Firefighters and cancer

(KMSP) – A Fox 9 investigation finds some Minnesota firefighters are not being educated or trained on how to prevent cancer risks while on the job, even though a large percentage of firefighters want more help in cutting the risks of getting the disease.

Cancer has become the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for firefighters. Sixty percent will die from cancer compared with 20 percent of the general public, according to the International Association of Firefighters.

Firefighters’ hearts at risk

(KMSP) – It’s a little-known fact that this is how most firefighters die in the United States.

Shane Clifton, a St. Paul firefighter and paramedic, was only 38 when he died of a massive heart attack while on duty at fire station No. 14. Help was right there–but it wasn’t enough.

Nearly half of all firefighters will die on duty, not from smoke and flames but from cardiovascular disease.

Harvey Weighs on Mental Health of Survivors, First Responders

By Victoria Maranan  |  August 31, 2017 at 8:15 PM

STATEWIDE — Hurricane Harvey has done more damage than the devastation you see in Houston and the Gulf Coast. It has done a number to survivors’ peace of mind.

For thousands of Texans flooded out of their homes, losing their place is more than just a physical problem.

“They have very natural reactions to what was an unnatural event,” said mental health expert Dr. Kathleen Casey. “They can experience lots of symptoms of emotional distress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, irritability, fatigue.”

It’s a time of stress and uncertainty.  Recovery will be a long and painful process for survivors – physically, emotionally and mentally. Now, imagine if you’re an emergency responder.

“It’s a dual trauma situation,” Foundation 1023 board member Cindy Present. “So, not only are they dealing with the stress and the PTS of the moment of helping their community and helping the people they need to help, they’re also part of that community.”

It’s an added burden during what’s already a stressful situation.

“Many of them have also suffered their own personal loss, whether it’s their homes, their neighborhoods, their communities, maybe a peer, maybe a family member,” Present said.

Olympians Work Out for First Responders

By Victoria Maranan | December 18, 2016 at 04:27 PM CST

AUSTIN, Texas – Some Austinites’ workout routines turned into a once in a lifetime experience Sunday.

Olympians Work Out for First Responders

Three soccer legends came in to exercise with them, and it’s all for a good cause.

Maya Bustami brought her sisters in at Orangetheory at Four Points to meet their idols.

“We really admire the U.S. Women’s National team because, well, Kristine Lilly’s been in five World Cups, and it’s really cool,” she said.

Lilly, along with Mia Hamm and Tisha Venturini, worked out with gym regulars to raise money for first responders.

“My husband’s a former firefighter in Boston,” Lilly said. “So I do understand the first responders and what they go through and what they see on a daily basis and, obviously, risk their lives. So, it’s close to home for me.”

“They serve us every single day,” said two-time Olympic gold medalist Hamm. “So, if there’s a way we could help them, we’re all for that.”

A Culture of Silence: Mental illness in the law enforcement community

By Dalton Huey, KVUE | November 24, 2016 at 07:16 AM CST

CENTRAL TEXAS – Stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness in the law enforcement community have historically created a culture that too often ignores the stress and mental anguish officer’s face.

The statistics related to mental illness and law enforcement suicides are staggering.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • 1 in 5 individuals in the United States will face a mental health condition this year.
  • Almost 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life.
  • 7 to 19 percent of police officers have symptoms of PTSD, compared to 3.5 percent among the general public.
  • More police die by suicide than by homicide: the number of police suicides is 2.3 times that of homicides.

Letter from the Foundation 1023 Board

First Responders are ten times more likely to commit suicide than the average American and more than one third of First Responders are affected by PTSD.

Many of us think of the military when it comes to PTSD; not many of us have considered what a First Responder faces over the course of an entire career.

They are our superheroes. They put on their “capes” to come to our aid, respond to calls without regard to the horrors they may encounter; things most of us would never see or deal with in an entire lifetime.

Giving Back to Our First Responders: Foundation 1023

In 2016, Foundation 1023 was granted 501(c)(3) status shortly after incorporating and has already been providing confidential counseling care for First Responders. In addition, with the funding you have helped us raise to date, we’ve provided numerous First Responders the opportunity to experience peer to peer trainings, support networks and outdoor events that have been catalysts for positive mental wellness impact.

Foundation 1023 focuses on making a positive mental wellness impact to our First Responders.  Your support is helping to remove the stigma of this issue that is beginning to receive media attention as well as substantial supportive research. Current data shows that First Responders are affected by PTSD and vicarious trauma just as our military personnel are – but in the case of First Responders, it can last for an entire career.

As our First Responders are always there for us in time of need, please help us put the mental wellness of our First Responders first.

Most Sincerely,

Melody Mesmer, Winston Merrill, Steve & Cindy Present
Foundation 1023 Founders