New campaign to educate about mental health of first responders

Mental health issues are a big problem facing fire and EMS workers, but a newly founded campaign, named Code Green, is hoping to help by educating first responders about the signs of PTSD, depression and substance abuse. 

Saturday, an event at Cowboy Harley Davidson in South Austin raised money to support the Code Green Campaign.

"We're hoping to make a change today," said President of EMS Roaddocs Riding Club Texas Guy Minshall. 

EMS personnel work alongside some of the toughest professionals in the world and see trauma every day, but many times EMS workers aren't remembered as much as other responders. 

"The fire department, the brave; the police department, the finest; the EMS, the forgotten," said Minshall. 

Roaddocs wants first responders everywhere to know they are not forgotten and they don't have to suffer in silence. 

"About one in five first responders do suffer from PTSD, about one-third of first responders suffer from partial PTSD. We're looking at suicide rates of about one first responder every two and a half days," said Fiona Campbell, secretary of the Code Green Campaign.  

"We want to change that one every two and a half days to none every two and a half days," said Minshall.  

The best way to change that, according to Code Green professionals, is to start talking about mental health issues within first responder agencies. 

"A lot of agencies don't start to do anything until they have a suicide. So what we'd like to see is agencies be proactive instead of reactive and take care of their providers and provide options for their providers to address possible mental health concerns before someone is at the point of suicide or already having committed suicide," said Campbell. 

For someone who spends every day helping others, asking for support may not come easy. 

"We're tough, we're heroes, we don't like to mention that we might have problems so we tend to hide it," said Campbell.  

Campbell said ignoring the problem will not make it go away. 

"I think they take those demons home with them and it catches up and they just have too much. So we want people to open up their mouths and talk about it and maybe their peers can recognize signs of PTSD," said Minshall.  

Minshall wants first responders everywhere to remember, just because they save lives doesn't mean they are invincible. 

"We're all human at the end of the day. Our blood is just as red as everybody else's," Minshall.  

Safe Call Now is a hotline specifically for first responders run by first responders and their families. Reach Safe Call Now 24/7  at 1-877-230-6060.
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