Fire fighters see trauma every day. Over time, these events weigh heavily and can lead to behavioral health issues, including substance abuse and post-traumatic stress.
The Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters (RISAFF) has made help for behavioral health issues a top priority, developing a peer support program available statewide.
Using the IAFF’s Peer Support Training program as a template, Cranston Local 1363 member Scott Robinson and retired North Providence Local 2334 member Joe Casalino developed a comprehensive behavioral health program to train fire fighters to assist members struggling with substance abuse, gambling, financial stress and post-traumatic stress.
Sixty Rhode Island IAFF members were nominated by their local presidents to participate in the training. They will then be part of a three-tier network of peer support called the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters Members Assistance Program. Help will be available at the local, state and district level.
“If a member would rather talk to someone outside of their local, they can reach out to the person assigned to their district or contact the RISAFF,” says Robinson. “The most important thing is for members who need help to get it as soon as possible.”
The training is expected to last seven months.