Mental health help for firefighters a growing concern

By Gold Meadows
KVAL 13 Oregon
June 3, 2024
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

OREGON – The end of wildfire season is a relief for residents in areas prone to blazes this time of year, but it often marks the beginning of a new battle between first responders and their own mental health. For wildland firefighters, wildfire season–which from mid-May through late September–is a seasonal opportunity to earn extra money, but it can come with a hefty price tag. “There can be acute exposures where it’s a massive call where there’s highly traumatic events; those are easily identifiable, and they never go away. They stay with you for the rest of your career. And then there’s the incremental, the calls that add up over time,” said Matt Laas, fire service safety officer for the Oregon State Fire Marshal. Laas has worked as a first responder for 28 years and says firefighters usually work 24 hour shifts with their off hours plagued by sleep deprivation.

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