I think it is safe to say that our department is struggling right now and in a crisis. We have lost two members to suicide and almost a third the other night. It is all our responsibility to do everything we can to address this and work on solutions. Very quick update on what we have in the works.
I put a call out to the IAFF for assistance and we are in the process of mobilizing the IAFF Peer Support Team. On March 21, 22, and 23 all DFR will have a “Safety Stand Down” and a team of 28 Peer Support Team members will be in town and making station visits. They will split into teams of two and be escorted to all stations, dispatch, rookie school, and paramedic school. They have no script or “program”, they merely will be introducing the idea of Peer Support and be there for any sort of discussion.
I challenge each of you to take these 3 days to learn more and focus on each other. As a crew, take the time to share your personal struggles and successes with each other. With the hope of having conversations like this to become part of your weekly routine. We can all start out as a shift, and soon begin to infiltrate the districts to help shift our culture and reduce the stigma behind reaching out for help. Please welcome them into the station and feel free to have open and honest discussions with them. They will have brochures with resources that are available to all members.
We are transitioning to our new website and on the front page is a button for Peer Support. This leads to a page introducing the idea and has two links on it, one is if you need help. That will go to Casey Ellsworth, and he will contact you immediately. The second link is a brief list of resources that are available to you. https://dffa.org/ps/support
Yesterday the DFFA Executive Board met, and we had a discussion on some ideas. We met with some of the Command Staff today, along with the other two Associations. We had a very frank discussion on what we are doing and where we are failing. We discussed morale, especially how our front-line medics are being affected. I believe it was productive and the Command Staff listened to our concerns.
One decision from the Executive Board was we will cover the cost of counseling for a minimum of three months for our members from “Lifeologie”. It is on our list of resources, but we have met with them and the Peer Support Team like what they can offer and have provided for our members. If you have any further questions, contact either Casey Ellsworth or a member of the DFFA Peer Support Team.
Yesterday at the City Council meeting Council extended “Mental Health Leave” to all city employees. This is a great benefit, and we view it as a start and a steppingstone to get people help that is needed. It is brand new, so no details on how it will work administratively, but the basic idea is you can get up to 60 hours off in relation to a traumatic event and evaluation by a mental health professional. In addition, the City Manager announced that we will be hiring three psychologists to serve the members of DFR for their needs.