Brothers & Sisters,
As many of you may know, September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. There is no better time to shine a light on the growing problem of suicide and post-traumatic and cumulative stress injuries in the Fire Service. Over the next week, Local 1014 will be engaged in several outreach activities to bring awareness and affect real lasting change within the Department on this critically important issue.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, the Board of Supervisors will be discussing post-traumatic and cumulative stress injuries in the Fire Service and for First Responders countywide. We need to show them that these are not just numbers on a page, they are real people with real families taking risks and bearing the burden of protecting their constituents.
Local 1014 Members along with Los Angeles County Lifeguards Association (LACoLA) will be converging upon the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting to demonstrate our resolve and make our voices heard to our elected officials. We need our elected officials to know that the health and welfare of our members should be their number one priority. They need to step up and provide the resources we need to take care of our members, including the formation of a robust Behavioral Health Program.
Directly following our rally and demonstration, on September 12 through September 14, the Los Angeles County Fire Department in partnership with Local 1014 will be participating in a department-wide Behavioral Health Safety Stand Down. This stand down will include a curriculum designed by mental health professionals, our LA County peer support teams, Union representatives, and management. Drills and activities will be canceled for all three shifts and replaced by kitchen table sessions with a behavioral health and suicide awareness program.
This month, perhaps more than most, we have been reminded that our Firefighters and Fire Service Personnel are asked to face horrors few can imagine, from mass casualty events, to the intimate pain of a child dying in their arms. It can take its toll on even the strongest individuals. Sometimes, the stress boils over.
Last year, more Firefighters died from suicide than from on-duty events. National surveys suggest nearly one in three Firefighters has considered suicide. In many cases, post-traumatic stress injury is the cause, and all too often, our brothers and sisters suffer in silence.
Local 1014 has been a leader in Behavioral Health statewide with Local 1014 President Dave Gillotte serving as Chair of the statewide Behavioral Health Task Force. Your Local 1014 Executive Board is committed to continuing this fight to break the silence, and break the stigma.
President Dave Gillotte and your Executive Board