Breaking through the stigma and HEALING OUR OWN 

No matter how tough, no one is immune to the anguish that can build from a career of difficult calls.

All too often, we keep the anguish buried inside, afraid to be labeled as weak or unfit. “The ‘suck it up, buttercup’ mentality believes … all you need to do is rub some dirt in it and get back out there.” Thing is, the same line was used against SCBA, seat belts, turnouts and other safety equipment and practices that are saving firefighter lives. As with any injury, allowing this anguish to fester can lead to to unhealthy habits, behaviors and, sometimes, death.

It’s time to break that stigma. Speaking up is not weakness … it is the strongest, healthiest thing you can do.
Where to go to find help

Crisis Lines
Safe Call Now – 1-206-459-3020 A 24/7 help line staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse and other personal issues.

Fire/EMS Helpline – 1-888-731-3473 Also known as Share the Load. A program run by the National Volunteer Fire Council. They have a help line, text based help services, and have a collection of resources for people looking for help and support.

Frontline Helpline – 1-866-676-7500 Run by Frontline Responder Services. Offer 24/7 coverage with first responder call-takers.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255  The national suicide hotline. Not first responder specific, but they can talk to anyone who needs help.

National Programs — an online clearinghouse of information about firefighter post-traumatic stress, along with links to peer support resources offered by dozens of individual fire departments.
Local peer support programs — More and more individual departments and local unions are bringing peer support into the firehouse. Best resource is to contact your local union. We’re compiling a list and will update with additional local information as it becomes available.

Significant Others and Spouses — Program from the First Responder Support Network aimed at helping family members of firefighters deal with family disruptions and issues arising from the stresses of the job.

IAFF Center for Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery — Comprehensive in-patient recovery center exclusively geared to firefighters. Treatment of substance abuse, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), depression and other psychological injuries linked to the job. (READ: “Firefighters helping others learn to help themselves” — Washington Post)

West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat — Recovery center geared toward firefighters and law enforcement. Small-group treatment with intensive debrief and counseling, driven by peer support and geared toward needs of first responders.

Rotary House Retreat — Intensive outpatient retreat that provides first responders the opportunity to learn and practice new coping skills while improving personal and professional relationships. RHR focuses on substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbances, and other stress – and trauma-related symptoms.

Regional Support Services:

Mountain Vista Farm
Location: 3020 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Phone: 707-996-6716
Focus: Alcohol and substance abuse treatment facility, located in Sonoma County.

Dian Barkan:
Location: 825 College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Phone: 707-579-8044
Focus: First Responders

Greg Burns:
Location: Livermore, CA
Phone: 925-223-7228
Focus: Marriage & Family Counseling

Dr. Mary Dinerman, MD:
Location: 101 Gregory Lane, #33, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Phone: 925-939-7560
Focus: Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Joel Fay: West Coast Trauma Retreat
Location: San Rafael, CA
Phone: 415-720-6653
Focus: First Responders

Richard Giovannoli, PhD:
Location: 874 Gravenstein Hwy S., Suite 12, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: 707-824-8834
Focus: Marriage, First Responders

Carlos Harvey: Oakland Fire
Location: Station 20
Phone: 510-238-4020
Focus: First Responders CISM

Dr. Dana Nussbaum, PhD, EMDR:
Location: 1683 Novato Blvd, Suite 1B, Novato, CA 94947
Phone: 415-484-1473
Focus: First Responders

Barry Pierce, M.D.:
Location: 1260 N. Dutton Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: 707-525-9045
Focus: Psychopharmacology, Psychiatrist level counseling

Esther Trevino, MTF:
Location: 2020 Forest Ave, San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: 408-896-4585
Focus: PTSD, Marriage/Family Therapy