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Public Safety Health & Wellness News

Grant To Provide Boulder County Sheriff’s Office With In-house Mental Health Services Law enforcement officers deal with tragedy on a day-to-day basis — from domestic violence situations to fatal car crashes and shootings. The challenges come with the job and a potential to leave a harmful and lasting impact on officers. “I think sometimes (emergency responders) get a rap for not feeling or having emotions for the stuff they…

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Arizona Court Rules In Favor Of Law Enforcement Officer With PTSD

After his workers’ comp claim for PTSD was denied by his county and the industrial commission, John France’s only hope was the Arizona Court of Appeals. GILA COUNTY, Ariz. — A major Arizona court decision came down in favor of law enforcement officials struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a former Gila County Sheriff’s sergeant after he was involved in a…

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Women Firefighters Face High Exposure To Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

San Francisco’s female firefighters are exposed to higher levels of certain toxic PFAS chemicals than women working in downtown San Francisco offices, shows a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Silent Spring Institute. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in grease- and water-resistant coatings and can be found in fabrics, furniture and food packaging, but also…

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Wellness Program Helps Officers Manage Stress And Anxiety

A meditation room, therapy dog and heart rate variability tools are all part of a peer support program designed to improve employee wellness Innovation is at the heart of the Gilbert (Arizona) Police Department’s employee wellness program. A meditation room, therapy dog and heart rate variability tools are all part of a peer support program designed to improve employee wellness. Ed Morales is Gilbert’s peer support and wellness coordinator, helping officers and…

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Peer Counseling Seen As Salve For First Responders’ Stress And Despair

This time, the suicide call led Marion County sheriff’s deputies to one of their own. The victim was Adam Rendall, a 13-year veteran of the department who took his own life in July 2017. Sheriff Billy Woods, in an emotional video message to the county’s citizens announcing the tragedy, pointed to hotlines where people in despair could find help. They included a number specifically geared toward cops. George Wallace, a sergeant…

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Group Addresses Suicide Rate Among Firefighters, Pushes For Support And Prevention

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Whether it’s a house fire, a car accident, or even a helicopter crash that claimed nine lives, what firefighters see and experience over time can take a toll. Research shows Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression rates for firefighters can be five times higher than the civilian population. Just last year, more than twice as many firefighters died by suicide than died while on duty….

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Fort Worth Cops, Firefighters Say They Won’t Be Silent While Co-workers Kill Themselves

The first thing the two police officers saw when they walked into the room was a woman lying at the feet of a man holding a gun. The gun was pointed at the ground and despite multiple orders to do so, he would not drop it, said Luis Castillo, a retired patrol officer. A girl, who looked to be between 10 and 12, knelt at the man’s feet and…

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South Fulton Aims To Tackle Firefighter Cancer With Physicals And Counseling

The men and women working to keep you alive in case of a fire, face a multitude of health risks of their own, even after flames are extinguished The city hopes this new health initiative will help fire employees catch health concerns before it’s too late. South Fulton Deputy Fire Chief Sterling Jones tells FOX 5’s Alex Whittler this new program is unique because it will include mental health…

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Orlando Police Officer Who Suffered PTSD After Pulse Massacre Granted Retirement, Pension

Police pension board members voted unanimously Thursday to grant disability retirement and a lifelong pension to Orlando police Officer Alison Clarke, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder following the Pulse massacre. ORLANDO, Florida — Police pension board members voted unanimously Thursday to grant disability retirement and a lifelong pension to Orlando police Officer Alison Clarke, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder following the Pulse massacre. Clarke cried as she embraced her…

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The Things They Carry: PTSD In The Fire Service

Firefighters run toward destruction, injury and death, and it takes a toll on their mental health — particularly in Rhode Island, where a generation was touched by the Station nightclub fire. These are the things Jerry carries. The kid from the multifamily fire. The parents and three children from Highland Street. Double fatalities. Double electrocutions. That car wreck back in the ’70s. He was only a volunteer then, and…

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Lawmakers Want To Help First Responders Get Treatment For PTSD

JEFFERSON CITY — First responders recounted traumatizing experiences in vivid detail during a Missouri Senate committee hearing Tuesday. “If you’ve ever held a limb separated from a person, it’s weird,” said Ben Chlapek of the Mid-America Regional Council and Missouri EMS Association. “And on the highway, we have to pick up a leg or an arm sometimes. They’re heavy. It sits in your mind and it doesn’t go away.”…

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‘I Began To See My Life Fall Apart’: Bill Targets Funding, Treatment Of PTSD For First Responders

Firefighters, experts supporting LB 963 said legislation would change rules relating to personal injuries, workers’ compensation LINCOLN, Neb. — More than a handful of firefighters shared personal, powerful stories about the challenges they’ve faced while diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Their families and mental health experts joined them in asking Nebraska state senators to champion first responders and a new bill, which they say will help them…

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Recent Officer Suicides Place Spotlight On Stresses Of Police Work

Two officer suicides draw attention to the cumulative trauma officers face on job.  Duane Fredrickson’s 23 years as a police officer were a carousel of horrors that haunt him to this day. Countless shootings. Suicides. Baby-not-breathing calls. He grew increasingly despondent and withdrawn, especially after his marriage collapsed and his police colleagues began shunning him for turning in a fellow officer accused of stealing. At times, he thought about…

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Florida Working Out Flaws In Firefighter Cancer Bill

When Brian Kernohan complained to his doctor of merciless headaches two summers ago, he expected to get a prescription for a sinus infection, not a diagnosis of brain cancer. The 37-year-old firefighter’s eardrums were curved inward, so his doctor suggested a CT scan. It found a tumor the size of a golf ball sitting on his right cerebral artery, daring a stroke with every heartbeat. “Not even 24 hours…

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Leading By Listening: Hobart Police Captain Returns From FBI Academy Ready To Focus On Officer Wellness

Police Capt. James Gonzales typically starts his day by walking through his department, talking individually with the employees he supervises. The practice is important for Gonzales, 45, who recently graduated from the prestigious FBI Academy and plans to develop a wellness program for the Hobart Police Department. “It’s important to offer yourself, to make sure you’re there to listen and support,” he said. “If they need anything, you’re there…

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Will Aitchison Speaks With First Responder Health & Wellness Experts

Will Aitchison recently interviewed two of the nation’s leading experts on public safety health and wellness. He spoke with psychologist Stephanie Conn about how public safety employees, with help from their employers, can develop resilience to deal with traumatic stress and burnout. He and Fire Chief Dan Kerrigan discussed a variety of health issues faced by firefighters and other emergency workers. Dr. Conn and Chief Kerrigan will both be…

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Interview With Dr. Stephanie Conn On Emergency Personnel Resilience

What is resilience, how do emergency personnel develop it and how do departments foster it? Will discusses this important topic with psychologist Stephanie Conn in this special podcast. Topics covered: Dr. Conn’s book Increasing Resilience In Police And Emergency Personnel (00:02:44) What is resilience? (00:06:56) The four-part formula for resilience (00:11:58) I. Organizational resilience (00:14:38) Steps an employer can take to develop organizational resilience (00:16:34) Law Enforcement Mental Health…

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Fire Departments Working To Prevent Suicide Among Firefighters

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Twice as many firefighters in the U.S. die by suicide than in the line of duty. Now fire departments are sounding the alarm. Karen and Lew Lewis still treasure the mementos from their son Billy’s dream job, working as a firefighter-paramedic for the Sacramento Fire Department, at the busiest firehouse in the city.  “Twenty bad calls a shift, you know, that involved everything from suicides to…

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Cleveland EMS Union Battle Puts Mental Health In Spotlight

CLEVELAND — When the call came in, paramedic Chuck Cali and his partner hoped it was a mistake, or some feeble attempt to get the fire department there faster: “Neighbors report there’s a man on fire walking down the street.” Then they turned a corner. He was just standing there, not waving his hands or yelling. All his hair had been burned away. So had his clothes. Naked and…

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From Bankruptcy To Suicide, PTSD Can Wreck The Lives Of First Responders. A Woodstock Firefighter Wants To Change That.

The morning sky was the color of lead, the air was barely above freezing and the only sound was the crunch of dead leaves as Ryan Mains began a 10-mile run through Crystal Lake’s Veteran Acres Park. He has come here for years to build his stamina on the park’s steep hills, preparing for races that stretch well beyond a marathon. But he also treasures the stillness. When he…

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First Responders Gather At Cleveland City Hall For Pay Raise, Mental Health Resources

CLEVELAND — First responders are battling with the city of Cleveland over a longtime contract negotiation. EMS workers said they are still waiting for the city to honor a contract that would give EMS personnel a pay raise and better access to mental healthcare resources. It’s been a back and forth battle and a point of contention for more than three years. In December, a judge ruled in favor…

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Baldwin Firefighters Battling Increased Cancer Risk, Providing Advanced Health Coverage

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WPMI) — Fire departments across the country continue to work toward improving the health of their firefighters as synthetic materials inside many modern homes are increasing the risk of cancer for those battling the flames. Baldwin County fire departments are doing their part to minimize the chemical exposure to their crews, and they now offer better benefits thanks to legislation which they helped pass. Firefighters not only…

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2019 Sets Record For Highest Number Of Police Officer Deaths By Suicide

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Mental health continues to be a concern after a record number of current and former police officers died by suicide in 2019. In 2019, 228 officers died by suicide, which was a 32 percent increase from 2018, when 172 officers died. A third of those deaths happened in 4 states, which include New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Sergeant Charles Grubbs, of the Harrisonburg Police Department,…

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Norfolk PD New Year’s Resolution: Improve Officer Wellness And Resiliency

NORFOLK, Va. – In spring 2020, the Norfolk Police Department will start an evidence-based wellness program that will be provided to all sworn members of the department. The police department partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and University of Pennsylvania in December 2018. Norfolk PD became the first law enforcement agency in Virginia to receive nationally-accredited wellness and resiliency training. During a…

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Suicide Spurs Boynton Fire Union’s Mental Health Pitch

BOYNTON BEACH — The city’s firefighters union is pushing for more emphasis on mental health after losing an officer to suicide. “One of our brothers passed away of this disease,” said Shawn Weeks, president of Local 1891, the union that represents Boynton’s paramedics and firefighters. “Nobody thought this was gonna happen.” Noting Boynton’s fallen officer will “guide us into changing this profession,” Weeks rolled out an early-stage proposal calling for…

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