Dallas Fire Placing New Program to Save Lives
A new program in Dallas is starting soon to help firefighters who need addiction treatment as well as assistance with post-traumatic stress and mental health struggles.
By: Addiction Now
Dallas-Fire Rescue (DFR), an organization that traces its roots as far back in 1872, is implementing an addiction treatment and mental health program over the next few weeks. The program will be applied in part due to the increase of substance abuse and PTSDamong firefighters, sometimes leading to suicide.
"This is not unique to Dallas Fire, either the problems or challenges our first responders are going through nor the fact that we're trying to resolve some of these issues," said David Coatney, the DFR chief.
Coatney described what the program has done since its inception.
"Last year, in August, we had a member commit suicide and he committed suicide pending a disciplinary hearing," Coatney said. "This was the third suicide we have had in the last five years."
Coatney, who joined the force approximately two years ago, sat down with his command staff to find out what they had done to address the previous deaths and they responded that had been the first time they had met to discuss the matter.
After that, Coatney started trying to address the situation.
"Anonymity is very important to them because there is a cultural stigma associated with coming forward and saying I have a problem," he said. "You have some pretty big hills to climb."
Coatney said that they formed a network system and started meeting to discuss the matter.
"We continued meeting every two weeks, from August until January, and we thought we had a good base of the program," Coatney said.
Coatney stated he is trying to do the best for his department.
"I think we're all trying to do the right thing," he said. "Our philosophy here is if we take care of those who serve, they go out and do a better job."