PHOENIX — Firefighters across the country have been dealing with added stress from the pandemic on top of the normal strains of the job.
Scottsdale Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Eric Valliere said between being understaffed and having staff out from dealing with COVID-19, more firefighters are being exposed to traumatic calls.
“Our leave time has increased from those things and there's times that we actually have to ask people to hold over to work a shift because we have less people available to work,” Valliere said.
The organization typically helps when a first responder is lost in the line of duty but has been putting more emphasis on helping with mental and behavioral health now as well.
The app, called “Fireproof,” is a confidential and anonymous resource that provides firefighters across the state and their families with mental health and wellness initiatives, addiction awareness tools, and direction towards treatment and care.
“It's so important to share what you're feeling and to be vulnerable,” said Valliere. “Firefighters, just like most first responders, don't want to be vulnerable because we want to be the strong ones.”
But as the saying goes, you can’t help others until you help yourself. The same goes even for our brave first responders.
“The more that we can do proactively, the less we have to do reactively,” said 100 Club of Arizona President and CEO Angela Harrolle. “[First responders] show up with their A-game. Well, how do they get there? Who supports them? Who makes sure that they do and can come with their A-game? And that's us and that's why we have these apps and this mental health support in place to make sure that they're showing up, doing their best every day.”
There is also a similar app the 100 Club created for police officers, called “Bulletproof.”