There's a problem in California with firefighters and PTSD

There's a problem in California with firefighters and PTSD

October 14, 2019
KFI

Roughly 60% of firefighters surveyed by the International Association of Firefighters said they were haunted by memories of traumatic work situations. The report was done last year in partnership with media outlets in California and New York. Of the 7,000 firefighters polled, 19 percent have experienced suicidal thoughts and 27 percent have struggled with substance abuse.

I recently spoke to CalFire’s Mike Mohler about his agency’s efforts to help firefighters cope with the stress of the job and process the trauma of seeing so much destruction and, in some cases, death. Mohler said more than 20 firefighters have also had to deal with fighting a fire while their own families were forced to go to a shelter – some completely losing their homes.

 

Mohler says CalFire’s new chief, Thom Porter, is dedicated to creating a robust wellness program. With the support of Governor Newsome, Mohler says that Porter has been able to put mental health clinicians at command posts which allows firefighters to get help on scene to cope with trauma in real-time. CalFire has also increased its training to properly educate incoming firefighters about the mental challenges of the job, including the sometimes gruesome and deadly aftermath of fire incidents.

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