But as first responders, firefighters are tasked with more emergency services than most of us realize, and it takes an incredible toll on both their bodies and minds.
Firefighters Down is a California-based nonprofit using therapeutic healing to help these heroes live successful home lives after sustaining injuries, illnesses, and stress accumulated after years of rescue operations. Founded in 2013 by veteran firefighters and mental health professionals, their programs provide psychological support in the form of mindfulness in nature retreats, rapid response teams for immediate assistance, a therapist network and free online therapy, and a peer support network, among others. These efforts couldn’t come at a better time.
Working as a first responder is a risky job. They can experience minor and major physical injuries, but they are also much more likely to develop several aggressive forms of cancer, like multiple myeloma and testicular cancer. And when it comes to PTSD, the numbers mirror those experienced by military veterans fighting in a war zone. It’s not hard to see why; firefighters are exposed to emergency incidents like murder, rape, gang violence, car crashes, suicides, and domestic violence day after day.
Here are a few experiences firefighters who have found help with Firefighters Down shared with us:
“A pike pole fell off a roof onto my head and damaged my back and neck. The psychological effects of being injured and unable to participate in saving lives, doing the job i worked so hard to achieve, was the worst.”
“The aftermath of holding the hands of a 14-year-old rape victim...I couldn’t sleep and I could not find peace.”
“Retiring and no longer helping anyone or being part of something that means so much to the country I love was such a let down. Depression and drinking went hand in hand, but only made things worse.”
It was the suicide death of one of Firefighters Down co-founders Capt. Mike Henry and Capt. Rick Brandelli's fellow firefighters that ignited the spark to do more for their brothers and sisters struggling with visible and invisible wounds. They created strategic partnerships with like-minded nonprofits InsightLA, which provides trauma-informed mindfulness retreats to firefighters and their families; Griffin Gives, which supports individual and families battling cancer; and Family First Foundation, which helps children and families of injured firefighters experience joy and hope in their most difficult times. It is these kind of wrap-around services that ensure firefighters recover from injuries caused by their selfless acts of courage.
Chive Charities is proud to support first responders every day as part of our mission, and we’re always ready and willing to step up when these brave men and women need our help. We’re honored to provide a $10,000 grant to ensure their life-saving programs continue to serve firefighters and their families in need.
Firefighters Down co-founder Capt. Mike Henry had this to share with you, our amazing community:
“Over one million firefighters nationwide want to thank Chive Charities for supporting our 3,000 injured comrades who are at home in bed, in burn wards and hospitals across America. Each and every wife or husband of a firefighter who receives that phone call in the middle of the night and hears their partner has been injured wants to thank Chive Charities. As couples fly into our Mindfulness in Nature retreat to heal the stresses an exhausted firefighter brings home after days on the fireline thanks Chive Charities. Lastly, Firefighters Down, whose mission is to get firefighters back on their feet, thanks Chive Charities and theCHIVE family.”
That pretty much says it all. Thank you to the firefighters who care for all of us every day, and to our generous donors who made this grant possible. Are you ready to step up for the firefighters who protect your community. If the answer is yes, become a Chive Charities monthly donor RIGHT HERE.
If you're a first responder in need, or know someone who is, visit our grant application page to see if Chive Charities can help.