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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Stone, LMHC

Supporting First Responders

On Friday and Saturday, I had the honor of learning from amazing first responders - firefighters and medics of all ranks - on their experiences and how best to support them. The training was immersive, allowing us a glimpse into their worlds. There were live fire training and rescue practice scenarios going on throughout both days with about 600 firefighters.

We got to do some of the fun stuff they do in training and in real life. I served as our squad’s team leader. We donned turnout gear, pried open a door that opened out and one that opened in, climbed stairs in gear, performed CPR (adult and pediatric), and retrieved a training mannequin from a fully dark, smoked out room and performed CPR on it. We visited and toured two stations (Station 1 headquarters in downtown Orlando and Station 5 next to Pulse).

They told stories and played audio and video of the really, really hard stuff they see and experience daily —more than any human should— and of the internal battles they’ve personally fought as a result of the things they see and experience.

They also told us stories of the brothers and sisters they’ve lost to suicide… 2x the amount of line of duty deaths, which includes cancer and heart job-related deaths.

I’m grateful to have had this experience.

I’m humbled and honored that they called us (mental health clinicians) their heroes.

I look forward to helping more first responders and making an impact, however small, on reducing the suicide numbers and increasing their quality of life.


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