United States: Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield, Florida:
“PTSD for Firefighters is real. If your love one is experiencing signs get them help quickly. 27 years of deaths and babies dying in your hands is a memory that you will never get rid off. It haunted me daily until now. My love to my crews. Be safe , take care. I love you all.”
This was the last Facebook message posted by Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief David Dangerfield. He then took his own life by suicide Saturday shortly after.
A big hearted man in life, and death leaving a public message so that he died not die in vein: it was very clearly a statement to raise awareness of the unseen tragedy that had broken him from the inside out.
Don’t let the Chief’s uniform (shown), badge, stars and stripes fool you: First responders have to be tough and strong and compassionate at an incident. They serve and protect, run to the danger not from it.
Behind the badge and a tough old firefighter, or newly recruited paramedic or strong police officer, mental health can slowly be comprised, worn down, hidden and ultimately a will to live broken.
The Chief has a young teenage son: from social media we can see he is so proud of his son; admires him, enjoys time with him. A tragedy all round. In those deepest, darkest hours, it may seem no-one can help.
With PTSD your mental health is compromised. It is like trying to walk with a broken spine. You need help to think and process seemly insurmountable issues. The Chief’s message is being heard far and wide: from Dallas, to Dublin and Darwin.
Although we can never replace a father of a devastated son, we can almost certainly say his message will raise awareness of the mental health and, in all likelihood, save one life or more, somewhere in the world…. it leaves an evidence trail for other Emergency Service Departments to stop and take stock. He did not die in vein.
Reports like this can trigger all sorts of reactions in people. If you need help, talk to someone. If a life is in danger, don’t hesitate to call Emergency Dispatch 911 in North America or 000 in Australia.
24/7 help is also available. In the USA call LifeLine 800273talk. In Australia, services are: