Welcome to Personal Survival By Fire Chief Pat Kenny (Ret.)
September 13, 2010
By Patrick Kenny
As seen on FirefighterCloseCalls.com
Welcome to a new page and hopefully the addition of a positive chapter consistent with the mission of Firefighter Close Calls, which strives to bring forward issues involving injury and death to firefighters. These are often issues that are ignored, quickly forgotten or just not talked about. I think this Personal Survival page fits that description especially as it applies to “just not talked about.”
The motivation for the new page originates in a couple of different arenas. The first is to support the 13th Life Safety Initiative from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation “Provide firefighters and their families access to counseling and psychological support. ”The second is my own personal “close call” and lessons learned.
I approached Chief Goldfeder with the thought that unfortunately in the fire service discussion about close calls pertaining to mental health are not discussed. Many times the stigma of a suicide in a department by a member of that department or a member of their family is kept hidden. The result can lead to harmful situations for the surviving family members both inside and outside the department.
We do not share the warning signs are in some cases even after the situation occurred. This denial leads to less likelihood that a firefighter who has experienced a close call in his or her own life, and lived to tell about it, would not feel comfortable sharing that experience.
I have been providing lectures for the last year across the country in an effort to shed light on mental health challenges and have been struck by the magnitude of this problem. Specifically we are losing firefighters to suicide in higher numbers than I imagined. Major cities are battling this dilemma in their career organizations with both active and retired members.
Volunteer organizations face the reality that many times the dramatic calls they respond to involve someone they know. The effect can be both powerful and devastating.