CSFA President's Message
Physically and mentally, how fit are you?
Where do you rank overall wellness and behavioral health in your life? In my 30 years in the fire service, I have seen the gradual acceptance of wellness, fitness, and behavioral health training that is given to our people. This is a big advancement from the days of witnessing a horrific incident and having your Captain telling you to hurry up and get back on the rig without ever saying another word. Like many things in the fire service, we have thankfully evolved in the areas of wellness and behavioral health. We need to reflect on the past, and recognize today that many of our fire service brothers and sisters have been struggling with various issues in silence. PTSD, behavioral health issues, substance abuse problems, and health problems are rampant in the fire service. These issues do not discriminate between career or volunteer firefighters, or dispatchers and fire prevention professionals.
Now that we have identified the problem we must identify solutions to all of these major topics. A collaborative approach by fire departments, labor organizations, trade associations, non-profits, and policy makers is the path forward to ensure we’re addressing wellness and behavioral health issues.
I’m happy to share that as a Fire Chief I have been able to implement new wellness programs that have already made a difference in the lives of my firefighters. I believe that each one of us can make a difference by starting at a regional level and finding out what currently exists near your home department. Whether you’re a volunteer, combination, or career fire department, the men and women that you serve will benefit from a robust wellness and behavioral health program. In Riverside County I was honored to bring the O2X Wellness workshop to our area, and make it the first of its kind in Southern California. O2X Human Performance was founded by former Navy Seals that wanted to give back and serve veterans and first responders throughout our country. With over 200 subject matter experts in nutrition, wellness, behavioral health, strength training and other disciplines they are able to go out and provide an extensive 4-day workshop. Along with the workshop the members that attend also get the benefit of their app for one year and a thorough fitness assessment. This is one example of a wellness program that is eagerly accepted by firefighters and law enforcement professionals across our country. At CSFA, we are looking for ways to bring O2X and other wellness and behavioral health programs to our members, and ensure we are doing all that we can to provide the best information and support.
I’m grateful for organizations such as the First Responder Center for Excellence who support fire service wellness programs across the country and can be an online resource that provides additional reference information.
Your CSFA leadership team is committed to remaining on the fore front of the state wide discussion on the importance of ongoing wellness and behavioral health training. We will be incorporating these topics in future training workshops, articles, and conferences. We will be utilizing our SAFER grant to assist as a funding source and provide assistance however we can.
Our new generation has made it clear that wellness, behavioral health, and PTSD awareness must be included in today’s fire service as ongoing operational training. This is an area where some of us older firefighters can thank the boldness of our brothers and sisters who don’t want anyone to be left behind. I hope all of you do a little something each day for your well-being and that you embrace Wellness Programs.
If you’d like to assist CSFA in getting the word out about impactful programs, please contact your leadership team.
Fire Chief, Eddie Sell