INDIANAPOLIS – The greater Indianapolis area has seen many tragedies happen back to back over the past two months and counting.

According to, there are more than 40 Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams across Indiana, made up of trained volunteer colleagues who arrive on the scene to provide care to fellow first responders. to walk away from an incident, or they can provide one-on-one attention or group help in the days after.

“First responders are also more likely to die by suicide than to die in the line of duty, and the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance estimates that only about 40 percent of firefighter suicides are reported,” according to the Fire Department’s website. National Security.

CISM volunteers are often the first responders themselves. When responding to incidents, CISM volunteers are usually paired with first responders who have been/are going through a similar incident.

This way, first responders who are going through mental or physical damage due to a recent tragedy can connect with another human being in the same profession who has gone through the same thing.

CISM volunteers will involve mental health professionals if deemed necessary for first response.

For mental health professionals like Kimble Richardson, Business Development and Referral Manager at Community Behavioral Health, now is a busy and stressful time. He recently visited Anaheim, California to talk to first responders about their mental health and how to get help.

“We talked about ways that these first-timers can recognize mental health issues before they get out of hand, you know, like things are starting to happen,” Richardson said. “And also what you can do about it.”

Richardson said the response he and his colleagues received from their presentation about mental health and mental health resources was amazing.

“I think our presentations were the most attended of all the first sessions of the conference,” Richardson said.

Maintaining mental health in the field of first responders is needed now more than ever, and Richardson says that slowly but surely, mental health is becoming less of a taboo and people, especially employers, are starting to understand its importance. .

“They usually don’t include mental health as part of their conference. “They had to put us in separate classes because the attendance was so high,” Richardson said. “I think Indiana has a very strong history of providing rapid, appropriate and strategic types of interventions in crisis situations, especially for our first responders.

“The challenge is that some organizations and agencies don’t know about it,” Richardson said. “Mental health is not a weakness, it’s a disease.”

The public is able to help provide mental health assistance and advice to first responders by completing the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) mental health course. From there, you can learn the signs and symptoms to look for in first responders who may be suicidal.

More mental health resources for first responders, according to the IDHS website:

  • Friends and family members of first responders are able to get free mental health help through the Indiana Public Safety Foundation Counseling Service, available 24/7. Email [email protected] to connect.
  • Firefighter and EMT Suicide Screening: Take this online self-assessment from the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance to help you understand if you are experiencing symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Share the bootloader: The Share the Load program is a nationwide 24-hour toll-free hotline for firefighters and EMS personnel. Created by the National Council of Volunteer Firefighters and the American Addiction Centers, the hotline is a confidential service for first responders to receive instructions from another first responder who answers the phone. Call 1-888-731-3473 for help dealing with family issues, substance abuse, stress, mental health and more.

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