Safe Call Now

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Addiction Killed My Friend...

My Dear Friend - Terry Marvin

I received a phone call the other morning at 5:00 am advising me that my dear friend and 28-year veteran of law enforcement, Terry Marvin had died of a heroin overdose.  Of course the cop in me kicked in and I went straight to denial and then I started making phone calls to confirm his death knowing all the while it was true because that’s how addiction works.  I’ve seen much negative press written about Terry’s death which is being used from my perception as political fodder to further the agendas of others. I wanted to tell you about Terry and what he meant to me.  

Those of you that know me know I’m a pretty blunt person and not politically correct because it’s not who I am.  That being said, let’s get it out on the table, cut through the crap and call it for what it is; no need to sugarcoat it because addiction when left untreated usually results in jails, institutions and death!!!

Terry, like myself, was not without fault.  Yes, he got into trouble while on the job. Yes, he got a DUI and there were probably other things that went on I have no idea about.  I know through my own addiction and dealings with other human beings that many of us have a lot of “baggage” in our closets we keep hidden.  Although it’s human nature, our secrets keep us sick.  Having said that, who the hell am I to judge his life because I too, am an addict and know I am only one step away from his fate. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Safe Call Now®... Saved my Life!!!

Kevin Hagen decided to make the call that saved his life

You could say my story with my mental illness began several years ago (maybe 15?), but I chose to ignore the signs and figured it was just me. I was bullied in high school and that had an impact on my self-esteem as I was growing up and even in my adult years. I was married for 20 years and for most of those years I was told what a bad person I was and that I was not a very good man. After hearing such things for that long, I started to believe them! I have had tragedies in my life like most people, and some that affected me for many years, like the death of my mother. I believed that I was not worthy of being happy and that I was meant to just be that way so I should live with it. I managed to struggle through life like that for most of my adult life.

My job as a police officer added to the issues I already had. I have seen some very terrible things in my career, and some of them stick with me no matter how hard I tried to forget them. Because I chose to ignore my problems, they just got bigger and bigger: the 800 pound gorilla in the room, if you will. I managed to stuff my feelings and tell myself, “Hey, this is what I deserve, so I just gotta suck it up.” I ended up getting divorced, and I figured that was the answer to all of my problems. Obviously it was not. I went from bad relationship to bad relationship, always finding women that needed help; that way I could be the hero and fix things for them. It never worked that way. I just ended up taking on more and more problems, more and more debt, and finally I could not find happiness in anything, but I figured that is what I deserved.

I felt I had successfully stuffed my problems, but then all of the sudden, I was not ever happy. I lost interest in most things I enjoy; I ignored my children who I only see every other weekend; I pushed my friends away and just isolated myself in my home. 

One night everything came to a head. The hopelessness overwhelmed me. The nightmares came every night, so I was scared to go to sleep some nights. All I could see in front of me was a black wall, and in my mind it was all hopeless and I was lost.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is it PTSD or not???

By Safe Call Now®'s Dr. Laura Brodie

National statistics report that six out of every ten males and five out of every ten females will experience a serious, traumatic event in their lives. Although the trauma may be painful to experience, not every person who goes through a trauma will develop PTSD. Statistics also say that only 7-8% of these people will develop PTSD.   That is a relatively low number in the general population. The exact statistics of how many first responders develop PTSD is not known but to compare, it is estimated that 30% of Vietnam veterans developed the disorder.  It certainly does occur and is painful and devastating when it does occur but there is also a phenomena that occurs where people simply assume that since the individual has been through a trauma, then they have PTSD.

Working in the mental health field and teaching doctoral students I see this a lot. Because there is a trauma, the therapist simply assumes that all of the problems the individual is having are due to that trauma and they slap the diagnosis of PTSD onto the person. This is wrong and harmful. None of an individual’s psychological issues are caused by one defining moment. Individuals are much more nuanced and multifaceted to have every problem come from one source. It may make the individual feel better initially to believe that if they simply solve the one problem they will be “fixed” but it is a naïve belief and they are soon letdown when not everything is fixed.

Having a reaction of horror or disbelief in the early stages of a trauma is normal. Many times it is abnormal not to have a reaction a strong reaction to trauma. To pathologize a normal emotion to an abnormal situation robs the individual of his own ability to synthesize the trauma into his own psyche and work it through.  It tells the individual there is something wrong with you for having a normal reaction.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Father... Take Your Lumps Like a Man

My parents-Susan & Tim Riley

So… how do you say thank you to a man who worked 40 plus years in a factory and provided me with every opportunity he never had in life and then I crushed his heart and became a drug addict and ultimately indicted by the Federal Government for “Doctor Shopping”…  Well let me start here.

I want to introduce to everyone my father, Tim Riley.  I think the thing I respect most about him is he’s my “father” not my friend.  I’ll tell you later why this was so important in saving my life.  He’s the kind of man that has always been there to help others.  Whenever anything went wrong in our entire family my dad was always there to make it all work out.  Is he a pushover… hell no, never was, never will be.  He’s a man of character, faith, ethics and family values.

He’s the kind of father who was at every sporting event I ever participated in.  I remember one time I was traveling the country playing baseball and he took a month off of work.  His employer advised him that his job was in jeopardy if he didn’t come back soon.  He told them that his son was playing in the Pony League World Series and that they may have to fire him but he was going to watch his son play.  Wow!!!  Didn’t think too much of it at the time being a kid but reflecting back on it… Wow!!!

When my cousin or someone else got into trouble they always came and lived with Uncle Tim.  He’s all about family and is extremely protective of it.  He instilled all of these values in me and I followed them, making him proud and accomplishing all of the goals I set for myself in life.  He was there each step of the way.  Sometimes he told me what I didn’t want to hear but it made me better.  Enter… alcohol and narcotic pain medication.  

As I look back it amazes me that the man I admire most I let slip away and let addiction define my new family values and it didn’t include him.  How much more of an ungrateful sonofabitch could I have become?  I was full blown in my addiction, anytime my father would mention something to me, I would lie to him, deflect away from me and try to justify my actions.  He wasn’t buying any of it but he was also very unaware of what addiction was.  Unfortunately I educated him the hard way.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

God Bless Charleston...

By Robert Michaels - President & CEO Serve & Protect


In the midst of repugnant racial violence, peace broke out.

In the shadow of horrific hatred, love grew and blossomed.

Friends, when REAL racism descended on a Bible study in Charleston, there were no protests. No riots. The people of Charleston, black and white, wept together. Consoled one another. Came together for those who mourned. When the worst of America raised its evil head in Charleston, the best of America called out to God, and love overflowed.
Today, rather than reporting on destructive hatred in the streets of Charleston, media is left to report on the amazing outpouring of love and unity. Ending the story as a great punctuation, a simple faithful woman of God spotted the cowardly racist and is responsible for his capture, yet, credits God.
Charleston stands in stark contrast to Ferguson, Baltimore, and McKinney. Ironically, a deranged racist bent on starting a race war by such a cowardly act actually witnessed racial unity and even prayers for his own soul. Rather than hate, Charleston chose love.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Retired NYPD, 25 Years Sober... Here's What It's All About

Safe Call Now® Peer Advocate - Eddie Patterson

I grew up in Queens, New York, one of the five boroughs of NYC. My dad was a WWII vet that told me to take every civil service exam that was offered. After starting college I thought of joining the service which I was about to do when I got a call from the NYC Police Dept. I was sworn into the department in January 1982.  

 As I said I grew up right outside of the city so of course my first command was in uptown Manhattan, and to be honest I really wasn’t prepared for what I would see as a young twenty-something kid, and this is why I have so much respect for our veterans.  I learned fast that I would see people shot, stabbed, a thirteen year old girl jump to her death and of course September 11th
During these many years I also lost close friends, very close friends to suicide. One other important fact I left out was that during these years I would drink to forget what I witnessed. 

Jump a head years later and I realized I wanted to give back to the men and women that are still out there: cops, firemen, corrections officers, and our dispatchers. I began to volunteer at a local organization for NYPD cops and became involved with a local crisis center on their Suicide Hotline.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Behind the Prison Walls... Life of a Corrections Officer

By Safe Call Now® Peer Advocate - Captain Tammy Norton

The public watches many new TV episodes these days of “Orange is the New Black” or “Prison Break” and they wonder, what is it really like to work in a prison setting? Sean prompted me to write a piece for the blog and intimidated I was, not because I didn’t have plenty to say, I have worked in prison settings for the past 21 years-I just didn’t know how to say it.

When you hire on as that new Correctional Officer you never know until you walk through those gates that lock you in-and THEM out-how you are going to feel about this new career choice you have made. I have seen many new recruits turn around and head straight back out the gate once they heard the sounds of the locking mechanisms that are prevalent in my work environment-slam shut. T.V. can’t describe that feeling you get when you are outnumbered 200 to 1 and all you carry is a set of keys, a radio, and if you are lucky, a small canister of pepper spray.

In our profession, we manage the worst personalities that society has deemed unacceptable to maintain in a free environment and we place them all together. We are expected to act in a professional and non-judgmental demeanor to deal with individuals who have committed atrocities against children, other law enforcement officers or members of their communities and maintain safe and secure yet humane environments for them to reside-protecting them and us from each other when necessary.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#1stresponders... What Does It Take To Be A Leader?

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Did you know that you can lead from wherever you are? If you are a titled leader or a personal leader, you have the power to influence those around you.
If you are working on improving your leadership capabilities, here are 17 qualities that leaders need to have:
1)      Think "we" instead of "me." Your greatest joy and passion comes from creating team-based wins. 
2)      Have great self-awareness and understand that moods, attitudes, and emotions are contagious. 
3)      Understand that being a leader is a service job, the role of a servant - service to team, family, social causes, friendships, and clients. 
4)      Keep it about others, not you. 
5)      Grow others and focus on personal development. Make it possible for others to use their abilities and shine. 
6)      Don't just focus on being busy... get clear about true business accomplishments - think big!
7)      Build an inner-circle of like-minded, optimistic solution finders. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cop Dreams... What's That All About???

By Betsy Smith - Safe Call Now® Board of Directors

I wrote an article a few years ago for titled “Cop Dreams.”  The feedback was immediate and unexpected.  So many people were surprised to find out that they weren’t alone in experiencing these vivid, sometimes terrorizing dreams, and it wasn’t just the cops who were having them. 

When I was a high school senior I worked evenings as a police dispatcher for my local sheriff’s department.  One night I had a terrible nightmare. It was so real!  One of my deputies was yelling for backup but no matter how many times I pushed the “transmit” button, I couldn’t call for another unit. I was unable to speak.  The phones didn’t work.  I was completely helpless.  I woke up sweating and terrified.  I wasn’t even a cop yet, and I’d just had my first “cop dream.”  

There is no exact science when it comes to the study of dreams. We dream between 90 and 120 minutes per night, depending on how long we sleep.  We tend to only remember the last dream we had, unless you have reoccurring dreams, which are pretty common in both humans and in animals.  Sometimes I watch my dog Marley twitch, whine, and pant while he naps.  I often wonder if he’s reliving some of the terrible abuse he suffered before we rescued him.  Humans obviously suffer similar emotionally difficult dreams.  The top five most common dreams for humans are:

  • I’m Being Chased
  • I’m Falling
  • I’m Lost or Unprepared
  • I’m Naked in Public
  • My Teeth Are Falling Out (how weird is that?!)

Monday, June 15, 2015

All #1stresponder Treatment Programs: Just Another Gimmick???

By Mark W. Lamplugh Jr - Solid Landings Behavioral Health

Recently in the addiction recovery field, we have seen a few all-responder 24/7 treatment programs pop up across the country. These facilities offer first responders complete isolation from “normal” people. The only people the patient is around in the treatment program are other first responders.

On the face of it, it sounds reasonable. The work firefighters, police, and EMS workers are asked to do generates more than an average amount of trauma. And if you ask responders what clinical setting would make them feel comfortable, a common answer might give you the impression that they are a breed apart—a fraternity that is used to depending on cohesion as a matter of life or death.

But it is important for clinicians to ask, “Do these programs that single out first responders work better for their overall recovery?”

Deciding to seek help for alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental health problems represents a major commitment. It may be particularly difficult for many first responders because they work in a culture where admitting that they have a substance use problem equals admitting to weakness. It may mean destroying the sense, arguably useful on the job, that they are heroically invincible. “I’m a firefighter.” “We are tough as nails.” “We don’t get problems, we fight them.”

From a treatment perspective, this very thought process, which makes it hard to ask for or receive help, explains why all-responder programs may not be a good idea. Getting first responders to realize they are just like everyone else will be the first job of any program.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gordon Graham... What can go wrong, will go wrong...

By Safe Call Now® Advisory Board Member -Gordon Graham

Gordon Graham here and thanks for taking the time to read this rambling on important things going on in the world of public safety in general and law enforcement in particular. If you have been to any of my live programs over the last 35 years, you know my focus in life is getting more and more people to understand the value of real risk management. While there are many definitions for risk management, I like the simple approach: What can go wrong and what can I do to prevent this from going wrong?

With the above in mind I am asking you to do what I do every morning. One of the first websites I visit is This site is sponsored by The Cato Institute and they collect information daily on some of the things going wrong in law enforcement organizations around the U.S.

When you read this, I am asking you to ask this question: What control measures do we have in place to assure that this never happens to anyone in our department? As I have read these news stories for quite some time, I continually ask questions like the following: What control measures do we have in place to prevent patrol cars from being stolen on traffic stops? What control measures do we have in place to prevent cops from pulling out their pistol when they wanted to use the TASER? What control measures do we have in place to prevent this quadruple fatal at the end of a pursuit?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Shame on the Chief...

By Serve & Protect Founder & CEO - Robert Michaels

Recently it became public that the police officer in McKinney TX had been on two suicide calls just prior to arriving on the scene of the now widely disputed pool party. Perhaps that means nothing to the agitators, race baiters, and media, but hatred never has cared about truth. Up until this new information was released, all that was known is that his own Chief said his actions were “inexcusable.” Really? This new information sheds a different light, and calls into question this Chief’s quickness to throw his officer under the bus. The truth? This officer should have never been on the call because his Chief should have called him to the station for debriefing after two traumatic events.

As a former police officer who has been on those calls, and today operating a non-profit for public safety that has included suicide calls, I will say without question or hesitation this officer was emotional charged as a result of experiencing two traumatic calls immediately preceding his arrival at the pool party.

According to the DSM-5, post-traumatic stress may occur when:
The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
  1. Direct exposure.
  2. Witnessing, in person.
  3. Indirectly, by learning that a close relative or close friend was exposed to trauma. If the event involved actual or threatened death, it must have been violent or accidental.
  4. Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, collecting body parts; professionals repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse). This does not include indirect non-professional exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

5 Values that Empower Personal Leaders...

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

I often take first responders, teams and personal leaders through a values clarification exercise. You start by listing to all the values that are vitally important to you. For example:
  • Life-balance
  • Spiritual peace
  • Health and vitality
  • Personal drive
  • Goal-setting
  • Family relationships
  • Recreation
  • Personal development
  • Friendships
  • Dreaming big
  • Being purpose driven
  • Humility
  • Lifestyle quality
  • Adventure
Sometimes the list grows to over 25 values. Then you narrow it down to your top 15, then your top ten, and finally your top 5 values. It is powerful to watch a first responder, person or a team decide what values they will embrace, what they will live for and what they will die for. 
Those values come from the core of their beliefs and faith. I won't address those here, because I believe you must wrestle them down personally.

Instead, I'd like to suggest five values that empower personal leaders:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Here's Your Chance to Save a Life...

By Safe Call Now® Vice President & Peer Advocate Coordinator - Ron Jones

Calling all first responders. We hear it all the time; take care of yourself, be safe, stay alert. Generally speaking we are reactive in our professions. Responding to calls for service, disasters, critical incidents, active shooter, the list is endless. But who takes care of us; the ones on the front lines, those who are retired, the ones who have life altering disabilities, and even worse, the forgotten? We should look after each other, don’t wait on the department, or the municipal, county, state, or federal government. You will certainly be disappointed if you do. So you may ask, what then?   

Safe Call Now® always has room for motivated volunteers who have a background in the public safety arena and a passion for helping. In all of our professions we are expected to serve and we should but who better to look after a brother or sister than someone who has been there, who gets it, who has the same shared life experience. At Safe Call Now® that is exactly what you will find. We exist to help you and your family, BUT, we can’t do it alone. 

What does it cost to be a part of this life saving organization, what are we asking you to donate; yourself, your time, your ability to calm others and offer assistance when needed as only another peer can do. We provide the training, we expect nothing monetarily in return, we need you! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cumulative Trauma Events & The #1stresponder

By The Station House Retreat Staff

The first responder community has made a great effort to address the effects that a critical incident can have on first responders. Critical Incident Stress teams have been set up by departments across the country and, ideally, work with first responders when they experience a traumatic event. If an officer observes a suicide or a firefighter has to respond to a deadly car wreck, their departments are going to make sure that they talk with someone, and that is appropriate. But there is another very real danger I’ll refer to as the cumulative effect.

It is not necessarily that one big disaster that is going to take you down. It may be the cumulative effect of the stuff that builds up day after day whether it is: arresting the bad guys and watching them released; having to deal with the worst in societal populations; false alarms; inadequate resources; going home knowing that no matter how good of a job you do, there will be more bad things for you to deal with tomorrow. When the cumulative effect goes unmanaged it is understandable that an individual will look to self-sooth, often with drugs and alcohol. This unhealthy form of self-soothing ads to the unmanageability of life as things begins to spin out of control.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Is My Personal Info Really Secure???

Red Folder

I’ve been speaking with Christopher Burgess about Red Folder.  It is extremely affordable and having said that it is an absolutely heaven-sent system to completely manage, protect and secure my personal life and information for me. From all social media accounts, bank accounts, credit card and mortgage information, medical identity information, wills and pharmaceutical information including dosage and complete list of drugs.  Utilities, accounts and point of access—and passwords on all of the above.

I’ve discussed security in a previous video, but in the following video I really do drill down on how important security is to everyone today, especially to first responders, public safety personnel and their families.  If there is no security, there is no benefit.  Let’s hear what Christopher has to say. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fitness for Duty... Not a Career Enahncer...

By Safe Call Now® President & Founder - Sean Riley

I always enjoy seeing my dear friend and co-presenter Forensic Police Psychologist Dr. Laura Brodie (I’ll talk about her later).  As many first responders know, being ordered to visit the psychologist is usually not a career enhancer.  First off they’re usually sub-contracted by the department and the perception is that they may be biased on the side of the department because that’s who’s paying the bill.  Right, wrong or indifferent the door is wide open to challenge this and the first responder knows that some kind of report is going back to their agency.

With that in mind, do you really think the first responder is going to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets that may jeopardize his/her employment and their ability to provide for their family?  Hence the double edged sword.  If I do reveal myself I could potentially be impacted in a negative manner with my employment.  If I don’t, I suffer inside.  Either way it’s a system set up to fail.  There are going to be a lot of police psychologist out there that are going to “rip” me over this post but I can only tell you about my experiences and those that are reported to me throughout the country by first responders and their experiences with you.

I speak at many conferences and we address the departmental psychologist at great length.  The overall consensus from the first responders is that you’re not trusted, you’re arrogant, egotistical and the only job of the first responder is to “beat you” in all aspects of the session.  Let me explain further.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

What's Up Doc?

By Sgt. Mark St. Hilaire - Rescue Team Wellness

My brothers and Sisters, as we move ahead towards better health and fitness, we must begin with a crucially important visit to our primary care physician.  Now I am surprised when some of you admit that you don’t have a primary care doctor.  This is the one person we really must depend on for our health and well-being especially in our high stress, injury prone careers as first responders.

My initial point of visiting your physician is for a complete physical exam before we make changes in our eating plans, exercise routines or added performance of work duties. We want to ensure there will not be any negative repercussions to our health during these undertakings.

The real point is that all of us need to visit our primary care doctor at a minimum annually especially as we age.  Many first responders face many health challenges in their duties which affect our health.  We want to establish a health baseline with our doctor so we have an idea of normal especially when we feel ill or may be injured.

There are many areas that we need include in our physical exam: General health, cardio, lungs and circulation, our bones and muscles, neurological functioning, skin exam, blood and body fluids testing and a new undertaking many primary care doctors inquiring about our mental health and possible depression.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Disease of Addiction & the #1stresponder...

Safe Call Now®

A dear friend of mine always says and he’s right, “We treat our cars better than we treat our first responders in addiction who are going to die”.   When the red light comes on in our vehicles we immediately take the vehicle into the mechanic and have it assessed, evaluated and fixed.  When we’re dealing with the alcoholic or addicted first responder, the red lights come on and as a profession we will enable them to protect our partners (blind loyalty), try to fix the problems ourselves (which only a professional can do) or cast them aside and throw them away as if it is someone else’s problem (the easy way out).   

The diseases of addiction and mental health when combined are two of the deadliest diseases known to mankind, yet they are the only two diseases that we allow the first responder who’s brain is incapable of making logical decisions dictate the terms of treatment.  Maybe for fear of not offending them, ending their career, who knows there are many other reasons usually associated with “The Thin Blue, Red, Green Line”.  Ultimately I have determined that the main cause is that “It’s always been done this way in the past”.  

This is why Safe Call Now® exists, an organization that is willing to change the culture and thinking of an entire profession that experiences these diseases at twice the rate of the general population according to some studies and some say even higher.  Who knows?  I just know first responders are dying from it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 Habits of Lasting Leaders...

By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler
By Safe Call Now®'s Steve Gutzler

Before I share the three habits, I'd like to remind you that every day, leaders must wake up and lead themselves before they lead anyone else. Others depend on us, and because of that we must keep the fire burning within us.   

We must:
  • Know where we are going - Our Vision
  • Know why we are going there - Our Motivation
  • Know how we can help others - Our Leadership
To stay energized and on course - leaders can sustain themselves by:

1. The Habit of Passion -

Your passion will give you two distinctive traits: energy and credibility. Pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh said, "It is the greatest shot of adrenaline to be doing what you have wanted to so badly. You almost feel like you could fly without the plane."
When you love what you do and do what you love, others find it inspiring. I also believe it's the job of the leader to turn up the passion – the energy – the emotion.

My challenge: today show more passion and heart for those who serve and lead!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#1stresponders... How Do You Stage an Intervention???

Safe Call Now® Interventionist - Ken Seeley

If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from addiction, chances are you have considered staging an intervention. It is incredibly devastating to watch a loved one struggle with addiction. They may often claim to quit, only to use again. Their moods may shift dramatically, and they may lash out and become unstable at even the mention of the thought of help. If an addict has reached this serious and severe stage of addiction, the important people in his or her life may have no choice but to stage an intervention.

Staging an intervention is a last ditch effort to appeal to an addict’s desire to get clean. No one but an addict can decide to get healthy, but communicating with the addict in as clear and serious of a fashion possible may be the impetus for the addict to finally come to terms with the severity of their addiction. While an intervention can be a very useful tool in convincing an addict to get help, staging the intervention is an extremely challenging process. Confronting an addict may very well cause them to go on the defensive, and end in a fight that sends the addict further away from their loved ones. So, how does one stage an intervention? How can you get through to your loved one and have the highest probability of a success rate?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Suicide in the Ranks...

By Mark W. Lamplugh Jr. - Solid Landings Behavioral Health

“Mike was one of my best firefighters – a veteran of more than 20 years – one of those guys a chief can count on to get the job done. Rarely was there a structure fire, a rescue, or an auto extrication at which Mike wasn’t elbow-deep in the job at hand.”

Those are the words of Longmeadow Massachusetts fire chief, Eric H. Madison, about a fireman who had seen some of the most horrific duty calls in the business. Chief Madison also walked by Mike’s side through a PTSD diagnosis, a year of therapy, and a battle to secure disability payments. Four months after the disability came through, Mike succumbed to depression and took his own life.

The fact is, this outcome is all too familiar. In 2012, there were 61 validated firefighter suicides and in 2013 there were 62, according to Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. Canada had 27 reported first-responder suicides in the last half of 2014 alone, according to Team Conter Memorial Trust, a group that works with responders suffering from PTSD.

“The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder varies anywhere between 20 and 30 per cent over a lifetime career.” – Dr. Wayne Corneil

In the case of Mike, Chief Madison took all the appropriate steps to get help and continued to follow through himself. But what about the Mikes who don’t have proactive chiefs? Or the Mikes who never come forward because of the stigma associated with PTSD?

Their numbers may be higher than anyone knows. Over the course of a first responder’s career – confronting death, near-death, tragedy, crisis, and immense personal risk – experiencing PTSD at some point, experts say, is approaching close to the norm.