The Idaho Falls Fire Department’s TRUST Team was nominated for two national awards in the fire/EMS industry for creating a peer support network aimed at protecting the well-being of their members.
Over the past three years, the IFFD has worked alongside the Idaho Falls Police Department (IFPD) to implement a peer support team. Mirroring IFPD’s model and name, the TRUST (Traumatic Response Unified Support Team) addresses the stigmas associated with mental health as well as the heightened concern of stressors being placed on those in the public health and safety industry.
“We are very fortunate to have local elected officials, administrative personnel and medical providers who wholeheartedly support this program. We are also grateful to our partners in public safety at the IFPD who built the foundation for the TRUST model for our department to build upon,” stated IFFD TRUST member Whit Albertson. “Breaking down the stigmas associated with mental illness in the fire service is no small feat, but we are committed to getting our personnel the assistance they need,” adds Albertson.
As the incidence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts with the fire service increases, the team set out with a vision of creating an environment to help promote and improve the mental health and well-being of active and recently retired members and their immediate families.
As one of the largest combined fire and EMS departments in the state of Idaho with 125 personnel, record-breaking calls for service at nearly 18,000 in 2021, and more demands being placed on personnel to serve and protect a rapidly growing community, the TEAM took action to protect their own.
“Working with our two local hospitals and a local counseling center, we put measures in place to safeguard the privacy of members of the department from any shame or embarrassment they may feel should they seek help from their colleagues in healthcare,” explains IFFD TRUST team member Mike Scadden.
IFFD Fire Chief Duane Nelson states, “The support we receive from our local counseling center has been tremendous. Their staff spent hours working with our public safety departments to understand the unique culture and nature of our work, while providing us with the tools and resources needed to recognize and address the challenges our members may be experiencing. We cannot thank them enough.”
IFFD then began working with a local volunteer group – the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Idaho – to provide assistance to victims and families following a tragedy. The chaplains – some of whom have previous law and fire experience – have also been trained to assist members of the department on-scene and/or after a particularly challenging call such as those involving children.
The passing of Senate Bill 1028 in 2019 made PTSD and PTSI a Workman’s Compensation Claim for first responders which ensures that claims are no longer the responsibility of the member but rather paid for by the State Workman’s Compensation Fund.
IFFD’s TRUST team were finalists for the 2022 Hooley Awards in the Service category. The Hooley Awards recognize innovators and thought leaders, honoring their involvement, creativity and passion, and were founded to acknowledge their contributions in innovation and excellence. The Hooley Awards finalists were honored and celebrated at the Awards Dinner on July 20th during the 14th annual ImageTrend Connect Conference in St. Paul, MN.
IFFD extends a congratulations to the Hooley Award winner, Tim Seplaki of the New Jersey Department of Health Office of Emergency Medical Services for developing the Five Minutes to Help, a program designed to help fight back against the opioid epidemic. It was an honor to be recognized and nominated by others in the industry.
The TRUST team was also nominated for the EMS Awards of Excellence through EMS World, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of EMS. This esteemed program has become the gold standard of accomplishment in the EMS profession. Awards will be presented the week of Oct. 10 in Orlando, FL.
Photos: 1. Some of the IFFD TRUST Team members (Left to right): Driver Chase Mills, Captain Nathan McKinney, Firefighter Whit Albertson, Administrative Assistant Amanda Albertson, Public Information Officer Kerry Hammon, Firefighter Nicolas Magliocco. 2. Stock IFFD training photo. 3. Paramedic/TRUST team member Mike Scadden who represented IFFD's TRUST team at the ImageTrend Conference.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts there are several crisis hotlines available:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
- National Volunteer Fire Council’s Fire/EMS Helpline, 1-888-731-FIRE (3473)
- Safe Call Now, a confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis line and support service for first responders, emergency services personnel, medical professionals and their family members nationwide: 1-206-459-3020
- Suicide.org lists individual state helplines
Media Contact: Kerry Hammon, Public Information Officer, (208) 612-8122, [email protected].