CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — When a life is on the line, the first thing we are told to do as children is to dial 911. First responders always come to our rescue, but they experience struggles at times just like we do. Especially, in the wintertime.
We spoke with the Charleston Fire Department about their mental health.
“We are people. We are humans just like anyone else,” said Brian Hamrick, EMS Supervisor of the Charleston Fire Department.
In a community of first responders, there have been countless lives lost to suicide over the past few years.
“Outcomes of different calls or situations that don’t turn out the way you’d like them to turn out,” said Hamrick.
First responders say their jobs can become even more mentally challenging in the winter.
“I would say definitely through the winter months, the colder months,” said Hamrick.
According to Psychology Today, the most prevalent feature of a number of first responder suicides is an underlying mental issue often related to traumatic stress.
There are definitely a lot of calls that we go on, that way on your mind and really takes a toll. Especially ones with young people,” said Fred Dunbar, Batallion Chief of the Charleston Fire Department.
Fire crews say these calls can often involve dangerous situations.
“We respond to thousands of emergency calls a year here in the city of Charleston. Varying from medical calls to house fires, building fires, and a lot of those involve vacant houses, dilapidated homes, all sorts of dangers, arson,” said Dunbar.
Dunbar says despite the dangers that come along with being a first responder, in the end, they risk their lives for one reason and that’s to save yours.
“It’s those calls that you can actually make a difference and help somebody. They can be very rewarding and I think that’s what offsets a lot of the negative outcomes that we see,” said Dunbar.
Charleston Fire Department says they offer resources to help their crews debrief and get help if they are struggling with their mental health. If you’re a first responder or know one struggling, click here.