Mental Health First Aid for Fire & EMS
Earlier this month, NSPA had the opportunity to deliver a new training course in our region – Mental Health First Aid for Fire/EMS Course. In 2017, more firefighters died by suicide than in the Line of Duty. The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum was first offered in the United States in 2008. A group of fire and EMS leaders and other mental health professionals sought to adapt this training program targeting general adult populations for first responders. In 2018 this effort was completed and the instructor course was rolled out.
NSPA staff, first responders and mental health professionals from our region attended and were certified as instructors in the MHFA for Adults and MHFA for Fire/EMS Courses. This course focuses on the unique experiences and needs of firefighters and EMS personnel and is a valuable resource that can make a difference in their lives, their families' lives and the communities in which they live. Firefighters and EMS workers learn about the importance of early intervention and how, as first responders, they can intervene in the field and provide direct assistance to someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.
Roger Young, a retired career and current volunteer EMS provider participated in the first course offered at Cool Branch Volunteer Rescue Squad. He commented, "I have worked in Fire & EMS since 1982 and I am so glad to see this class tackling problems that have not been dealt with in our profession before. Almost every time you turn on the the TV you see something on the news or on a TV show about this, I don't think most people realize that this affects first responders too."
EMS providers who complete the course are eligible for Continuing Education Hours through the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services. Staff at the Western Virginia EMS Council manage the process for ensuring CE hours are accredited appropriately. Additional training is already scheduled for our region: Henry County Public Safety has scheduled courses for April 6, June 22, and September 17.
For more information about this training course, please contact J.T. Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org). Agencies that are interested in hosting a course, can contact Monica McCullough (email@example.com).