Lean on me: Local firefighters start new peer support group

Published: Nov. 7, 2017 at 8:14 AM CST
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Your local fire department likely has a brand new training program. It's focused on keeping firefighters mentally healthy. This story is part of our Movember series on men's health.

Firefighters are teaching kids about safety this month. They've also just recently learned about a new way to help keep each other safe.

Joe Myers recalls, "The mother runs up and says all three of my children are in the house. This house is burning... powerlines arcing and sparking and there's these three little kids in this front yard. It was horrible."

In front of that hollow house in 2010, Joe and other firefighters performed CPR. But, the kids did not make it.

Joe says, "It destroyed us. I've relived that fire call hundreds of times since then... hundreds of times.. "

For all the training firefighters do, there's a gap. Joe and other men- tend to bottle up emotions. So, they needed a way to help each other.

Joe adds, "We've been trained to take care of all this stuff. But, we've never been mentally or emotionally prepared. "

Joe joined other firefighters. He took a 16-hour class and helped launch a peer support group.

Joe says, "The main part of being a peer is being able to sit and listen to somebody attentively... pay close attention to them.You just need a way for somebody to listen to you, a way to vent and let it out and move on."

And, seeing what you'd wish you could unsee, Joe will understand other's grief. He used to go home and try to drink the demons away.

Joe admits, "I'm not afraid to say, I'm a recovering alcoholic.. I've been dry for 5 years now. "

Educating others. Being physically ready to respond. Now, a confidential way to be emotionally fit for anything. Even for the days, when you get to smile.

31 guys are trained now to be counselors in the peer support group in 10 local fire departments.

By the way, KY3's Paul Adler is just one guy setting the razor aside to 'grow' awareness about men's health. This month, you're asked to do just one thing to improve your health. It could be as simple as picking up the phone and making a doctor's appointment. You can learn other ways to improve Men's Health and about the Movember Project, check out #MovemberSGF or see the link on the side of this webpage

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