Behavioral Health & Wellness Services
The impact that the fire service can have on the mental wellness of emergency personnel is well known. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services reported in 2015 that out of the more than 4,000 first responders they surveyed, 37% had contemplated suicide and almost 7% had attempted it. That is more than 10 times the rate of the general public.
The good news is suicide is preventable, people struggling with suicidal thoughts can become healthy and resilient, and maintaining mental wellness throughout your career is possible by utilizing the resources the Orange County Fire Authority has put in place for its’ personnel.
The OCFA has developed robust behavioral health program resources for our personnel, retirees, and their families that include:
• Counseling and wellness services through The Counseling Team International
• Peer support through a passionate group of peer support team members
• Chaplains dedicated to each of our battalions
• Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program to support mental wellness following critical incidents
• Substance abuse and post traumatic stress injury (PTSI) treatment programs
• Programs to support strong family relationships including significant other survival program and couples training
Cancer Awareness & Prevention
According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, cancer is the leading cause of line-of duty deaths for America's firefighters. Causing 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016, cancer has led to a 14% higher risk of dying from this disease, than the general U.S population.
Changes you can make today
• Use SCBA from initial attack to the finish of overhaul (not wearing your SCBA in both active and post-fire environments is the most dangerous voluntary activity in the fire service today).
• Conduct gross field decontamination of all PPE to remove as much soot and particulate as possible.
• Change your clothes and wash them immediately after a fire.
• Shower thoroughly after a fire.
• Do not take contaminated clothes or PPE home or store them in your vehicle.
• Decontaminate fire apparatus interior after fires.
• Keep PPE out of living areas of the fire station.
• Stop using tobacco products.
• Use sunscreen or sunblock.
• Participate in regular WeFit exams.
The Orange County Fire Authority Wellness and Fitness Program (WEFIT) serves to provide OCFA firefighters and professionals with knowledge, support and opportunities to improve their physical health, wellness and fitness in order to enhance job performance and an overall healthy personal lifestyle.