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Counseling available for firefighters after wildfire

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Counseling available for firefighters after wildfire

Fort McMurray firefighters wave to returning McMurrayites on June 1, 2016

Story by Jaryn Vecchio

The wildfire may be gone, but it left more than physical damage for firefighters.

Some may be experiencing emotional and mental tolls as well as grief after fighting the blaze for countless days.

Counseling has been here for firefighters since the beginning; with phase one, of three, finishing in early June.

Phase two is currently in progress with all firefighters being contacted and asked a series of questions. Phase three starts on July 10th, with all fire fighters getting one on one meeting with counselors.

PTSD is very much being considered as many saw their own homes destroyed as well as the city they live in.

“There is a process for them to reach out for help if they need it”, said Deputy Chief of Operations and Technical Services Brad Grainger. “If it does happen and they have post traumatic stress we’re going to be there to support that”.

Some might not see the need for counseling but are still being encouraged to try.

“It may not be this fire that triggers, it may be the next or the next”, said Grainger.

After the 1 on 1, the firefighters will be put into three different areas. The first being ones who are coping well, the second being ones who might need some minor counseling and the third being ones who might need some immediate and long term help.

Grainger added that the three phases will take up to 18 months but counseling will continue for as long as they need it.

“Putting out the fire was the easiest thing we did, it’s the long term mental health awareness we need to worry about with our staff”.

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