The Fire Foundation has supported more than $150,000 in program requests designed to make peer support and professional mental health resources easily accessible for LA County Rescue personnel and their family.
THERE IS HOPE, THERE IS HELP
As First Responders, we see horrors few can imagine. While the call may end, the effects often linger. If we are not careful, sometimes they can push us over the edge. Peer support is the strongest weapon we have in the fight against post-traumatic stress injuries. It is critical that we break the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress injuries and encourage those who need it to seek help. The Peer Support program is designed to make peer support and professional mental health resources easily accessible for all members and their families.
Local 1014 has been a leader in the field of Behavioral Health. Local 1014 President Dave Gillotte currently serves as Chair of the statewide Behavioral Health Task Force and the Executive Board is committed to bringing additional resources to LA County. Your Local 1014 Executive Board is committed to continuing this fight to break the silence, and break the stigma.
In September 2018, the Board of Supervisors discussed post-traumatic and cumulative stress injuries in the Fire Service and for First Responders countywide. Local 1014 Members along with Los Angeles County Lifeguards Association (LACoLA) converged upon the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting to demonstrate our resolve and make our voices heard to our elected officials. We let our elected officials to know that the health and welfare of our members should be their number one priority.
On September 11, 2018, Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Supervisor Janice Hahn‘s joint motion to increase behavioral health services to LA County first responders was unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors. While this was a victory for our members, the fight isnt over. We need to remain vigilant and actively continue this discussion for the sake of our brothers and sisters and our families.
Directly following our rally and demonstration, the Los Angeles County Fire Department in partnership with Local 1014 participated in a department-wide Behavioral Health Safety Stand Down. This stand down included a curriculum designed by mental health professionals, our LA County peer support teams, Union representatives, and management. Drills and activities were canceled for all three shifts and replaced by kitchen table sessions with behavioral health and suicide awareness as the focus. We have now expanded this stand down to be an annual awareness day for our members.
In 2017, more firefighters died from suicide than from on-duty events. National surveys suggest nearly one in three firefighters has considered suicide. In many cases, post-traumatic stress injury is the cause, and all too often, our brothers and sisters suffer in silence. Please use the resources in your stations via the Local 1014 Mental Health Resources poster and reach out to our peer support team if needed.
In March of 2019, Local 1014 together with our partners in the Department was able to secure a full-time 40-hour Peer Support Coordinator position within the Department to run our Peer Program and help build our Behavioral Health Program. We continue to work on securing behavioral health resources for our program and Department-wide training on behavioral health.
Your Local 1014 Executive Board will continue to fight to ensure that as the bargaining process continues our elected officials and County representatives know that the health and welfare of our members’ needs be their number one priority. They need to step up and provide the resources we need to take care of our members, including the formation of a robust Behavioral Health Program.