|In our winter 2013 issue, Managing Editor Gwen Shuford started a special “Homefront” section to address the needs of the first responder family.|
“The family, spouse and kids of first responders are affected day in and day out by the stress and dangers of their loved ones’ jobs,” says Ms. Shuford. “This section is for the wives and children to share their feelings so that others know that they are not alone and can help one another. The family home needs harmony and to be a safe haven full of love. As there is a brotherhood, let us not forget the sisterhood that keeps the house a home.”
Part of that sisterhood is Dedra Cline who helped us launch The Homefront section in that first issue and brings her challenges and advice as a firefighter wife to the readers each issue. We hear a lot about the military and PTSD, but as Dedra points out in this issue, “It is real, and affecting our firefighters too.” She is so right. And it sometimes results in tragedy.
In subsequent issues we selected writers to discuss the many aspects of mental health as it relates to our first responders. We are fortunate to have Lori Mercer, a 14-year firefighter wife, to discuss her challenges. In this issue she speaks directly from her heart and I think everyone in the fire service will relate. She takes us through the many stages of being a firefighter from that eager and excited rookie to that seasoned veteran. Her quest is to remind us that it’s time to care for each other in between the crises faced on the job.
According to Lori, “Good truths are actions that happen in person, through individual acts of goodness. The truth is in our words and action.”
Next issue, Caleb Craver, a firefighter at Fairview Fire Department, will write about “Interior Attack: the Secret Fight Your Brothers and Sisters are Fighting.” He’s talking about suicide and the stress of the job of first responders.
I know many of you read this week of Virginia firefighter Nicole Mittendorff’s suicide. Was it the job? Was it bullying? Does it matter? What matters is that we lost one of our own brave heroes and maybe it did not have to happen. What matters is what happens now. Will the fire service institute some type of prevention program? Mr. Craver says Houston Fire Department has implemented one. The three phases include awareness, how to identify the signs and officer development to provide a culture of awareness and concern. We can prevent this and we must try.
Be aware of your brothers and sisters and yourself when the stress is there. Mr. Craver says it best. “With all of the alternatives available for dealing with stress, we need to determine what it is that makes death the most appealing option.”
On a lighter note, the staff of Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal appreciates our writers that take the time each quarter to deliver great training and information to our readers that help make their job safer. We are amazed at the knowledge they share. We would like to congratulate one of our long time writers, David Greene on receiving his PhD. He graduates from the University of Oklahoma this month. His articles are impeccable and always valued information. Congrats David!