Putting their best paws forward: Raising awareness about first responders' mental health
When the alarm sounds and firefighters head out on a call, they never really know what's waiting for them.
“A lot of times we end up in a situation that we didn’t guess or bargain for and the effect that it has over a period of time,” says firefighter Michael Sears.
That toll was too much for Claudia Currie's son Kyle. He took his own life in 2018.
So together with Sears, they started Fight 4 Life, a program to support the mental health of firefighters and first responders in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
“I named it Fight 4 Life because there’s a fight going on. Firefighters fight fires, they fight to stay mentally stable and we now have to fight to get funding to help them go to the next level,” Currie says.
To fund the program, a calendar featuring firefighters and their pets was created. Andrew Younger was one of the photographers involved.
“They see things that many of us as civilians just can never imagine and they take that home with them. This is just a small way of trying to get back and support them,” says Younger.
Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum is already seeing the benefits of the program.
“The work that Fight 4 Life is doing is critical to ensure (it) is there when it’s needed and very importantly … (when) firefighters are ready to receive it,” Meldrum says.
“It’s such an asset. Having these resources is just crucial for your success in this career and any first responder career,” says firefighter Emma Roberts.
This is the third year for the calendar which was shot over two days at the Fall River fire station.
All of the proceeds from the sale of the calendar goes to the Fight 4 Life charity in support of the 450 career firefighters in the HRM who risk it all on the job.