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First Responders

Support services and resources for first responders are crucial for addressing the unique challenges and stressors they face in their demanding roles. Here is a list of various support services and resources that can benefit first responders:

Virtual & LiveSupport Group Wed's 2-3pm
MUST RSVP TEXT (833)336-7543
We accept most commercial insurances

May Day May Day: Sounding the Alarm about Mental Health Struggles in the Firefighter Community

Scott Hewlett, Firefighter | Stories of Recovery- First Responders

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BHealthy University Quick Links:

8 Dimensions of Wellness
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Signs of Depression

  • Hopeless outlook

  • Loss of interest

  • Increased fatigue

  • Sleep problems

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Changes in appetite

  • Changes in weight

  • Uncontrollable emotions

  • Considering suicide

  • General discontent

  • Guilt & Shame

  • Mood swings

  • Excessive hunger

  • Slowness in activity

  • Lack of concentration

  • Obsessive thoughts

Signs of Anxiety

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Impaired decision making

  • Nausea, IBS

  • Irritability, tense, restlessness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Sweating, trembling, shaking

  • Sleeplessness

  • Sense of danger, panic or doom

  • Persistent, excessive worry

  • Panic attacks

  • Fear & persistent worrying

  • Isolation

  • selctive mutism

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Finding Help
Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 
Firefighter Peer Support 
Psychology Today
Call your EAP

Virginia Clagg PhD (ABD), LISW-S, LICDC  (614) 352-6807

Tom Bolin, FF, Peer Supporter, CDCA, Speaker, Author (614) 203-0349‬

Signs of PTSD

  • Flashbacks

  • Recurrent thoughts

  • Recurrent dreams

  • Physical signs of distress

  • Avoidant behaviors

  • Isolation

  • Drug/Alcohol abuse

  • Easily startled

  • Feeling tense, on guard, on edge

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Angry outbursts

  • Persistent feelings of irritability, anger

  • Risky, reckless, destructive behavior

  • Memory loss

  • Negative thoughts about self and the world

  • Exaggerated feelings of blame

  • Ongoaing negative emotions of fear,  anger and shame

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Difficulty feeling happy, satisfied, positive

Signs of Addiction

  • Obsessive thoughts of use

  • Intensive urges to use

  • Increased use/ tolerance

  • Needing more to get same effect

  • Abuse/ overuse

  • Maintaining a supply

  • Spending on using but cant afford it

  • Not meeting obligations (work, etc.)

  • Cutting back on social activities

  • Isolated use

  • Continuing use even though its a problem

  • Stealing, lying, hiding

  • Driving under the influence

  • Spending a good deal of time in recovery

  • Seaking behaviors

  • Can't stop using behavior

  • Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Family issues

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Selecting a therapist is a crucial step in your recovery journey. It's essential to opt for someone who is proficient in addressing your specific needs. Being trauma-informed does not equate to being trauma-trained. Therefore, ensure that you select a therapist who has received training in PTSD models (as highlighted in red below) for example.

Alternatives Models we Recommend





Cupping Massage



Sound Bath

Drum Circle

Dance Therapy



Soul Contract Work

Trauma Journaling

Life Coach

Functional Medicine

Kim Potter  (614) 356-7233
Kim Sweitzer (614) 353-6615

Intervention Curriculum

Treating first responders requires a specialized and compassionate approach that recognizes the unique stressors they face. An integrated strategy that combines mental health support, resilience building, and community connection is crucial for their overall well-being.

  • Cultural Competence:

    • Understand the unique culture and challenges faced by first responders.

    • Adapt treatment approaches to resonate with their experiences and values.

  • Trauma-Informed Care:

    • Apply trauma-informed care principles to address potential exposure to traumatic events.

    • Acknowledge and validate the impact of trauma on mental health.

  • Confidentiality and Trust:

    • Emphasize the importance of confidentiality in building trust.

    • Create a safe space where first responders feel comfortable sharing their experiences.

  • Peer Support Programs:

    • Facilitate or encourage participation in peer support programs.

    • Provide opportunities for first responders to connect with and support each other.

  • Crisis Intervention Training:

    • Include crisis intervention training in mental health programs.

    • Equip first responders with skills to manage acute stress and emergencies.

  • Resilience Building:

    • Incorporate resilience-building strategies into therapy.

    • Focus on developing coping mechanisms and fostering emotional strength.

  • Normalize Seeking Help:

    • Destigmatize mental health treatment within the first responder community.

    • Promote a culture where seeking help is viewed as a sign of strength.

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

    • Teach mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress.

    • Introduce practices such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.

  • Critical Incident Stress Debriefing:

    • Conduct critical incident stress debriefing sessions following traumatic events.

    • Provide a structured forum for first responders to share their experiences.

  • Education on PTSD and Mental Health:

    • Provide education on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health.

    • Ensure first responders are aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.

  • Flexibility in Scheduling:

    • Offer flexible scheduling for therapy sessions to accommodate irregular work hours.

    • Recognize the unpredictable nature of first responders' schedules.

  • Family Involvement:

    • Include family members in the treatment process.

    • Educate families about the challenges faced by first responders and how to provide support.

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

    • Utilize evidence-based therapies like CBT to address negative thought patterns.

    • Focus on changing cognitive distortions related to traumatic experiences.

  • Holistic Approach:

    • Adopt a holistic approach that considers mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

    • Address lifestyle factors, nutrition, and sleep as part of the treatment plan.

  • Post-Traumatic Growth:

    • Foster a perspective of post-traumatic growth.

    • Help first responders find meaning and positive transformation from their experiences.

  • Cultural Competence:

    • Understand and respect the diversity within the first responder community.

    • Tailor treatment plans to consider cultural backgrounds and individual differences.

  • EAP (Employee Assistance Program) Utilization:

    • Encourage utilization of Employee Assistance Programs for counseling and support.

    • Raise awareness about available resources for mental health assistance.

  • Regular Check-Ins:

    • Schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress.

    • Adjust treatment plans based on evolving needs and responses.

  • Psychoeducation on Self-Care:

    • Provide psychoeducation on the importance of self-care.

    • Teach practical self-care strategies that can be integrated into daily routines.

  • Transition Planning:

    • Address the challenges of transitioning from high-stress situations to everyday life.

    • Develop strategies to manage the emotional impact of transitioning.

  • Collaboration with Multidisciplinary Teams:

    • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals and support services.

    • Ensure a multidisciplinary approach to address various aspects of first responders' well-being.

  • Follow-Up and Prevention:

    • Establish a follow-up plan to prevent relapse or deterioration of mental health.

    • Encourage ongoing support and monitoring.

 Clinical Training:
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First Responders Support & Training

Prevention Programming:

Link to Services:

Prevention Curriculum:

Creating a trauma prevention curriculum for first responders is a critical step in addressing and mitigating the impact of traumatic experiences they may encounter in the line of duty. The curriculum should focus on both proactive strategies to prevent trauma and effective coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

Module 1: Understanding Trauma

  • Introduction to Trauma​

  • The Science of Trauma

  • The Impact of Trauma on the Brain

  • The Traumatized Body Keeps the Score

Module 2: Risks & Protective Factors

  • Protective Factors

  • Risk Factors

  • Know the Signs

  • Developing a Prevention Plan

Module 3: The Science of Emotions

  • The Emotional Bell Curve

  • Your Island

  • Your Theater of Life

  • The Circle of Your Life

  • The 8 dimensions of wellness

  • The Science of Emotions

Module 4: Clinical Treatment for Trauma 

  • The Clinical Modalities

  • Finding the Right Clinician

  • Resources

  • Telling Your Story

  • Confidentiality

  • Debriefing and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)​

Module 5: Communication and Team Dynamics

  • Seeing the Signs​

  • Team Cohesion 

  • Communicating support

  • Supportive Next Steps with Peers

Module 6: Prevention and Preparedness

  • What is secondary trauma

  • Preparing for the inevitable

  • Depersonalization techniques

  • COMPLEX trauma

Module 7: Self-Care and Professional Help

  • Coping skills

  • CBT Techniques

  • DBT Techniques

  • Holistic / Alternative health techniques

  • Family care

  • Professional care

Module 8: Know your support systems

  • EAP​

  • Insurance

  • Community

  • Professional

Module 9: Population Compassion

  • Cultural diversity in populations

  • Addiction 

  • Mental Health 

  • The Science of Emotions

  • Emotional Resilience 

  • Compassion Fatigue

Module 10: Family Matters

  • Trauma Bonding

  • Addiction

  • Know the signs of trouble

  • Support Care

  • Wellness Toolbox

  • Family Coping Skills

Additional Considerations:

  • Cultural Sensitivity

  • Realistic Scenarios and Case Studies

  • Guest Speakers and Experts

Intervention Programming:

Police | Fire | EMT | 911Operators

Ohio Assist

Link to Services:
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International Assoc. of Firefighters

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Link to Services:

Phone: 202.737.8484

The Recovery Village Columbus

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Link to Services:

Phone: 833-993-3569

Save a Warrior

Link to Services:
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Warrior's Rest Foundation

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Link to Services:

All Clear Foundation

Link to Services:
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If you or a loved one are in crisis, you can text BADGE to 741-741 to connect confidentially with a trained crisis counselor.

Office For Victims of Crime

Link to Services:
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Phone: 202-307-5983

International Assoc. of Chiefs of Police

Link to Services:
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Phone: 703.836.6767

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

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Link to Services:

Phone: 988

Survivors of Blue Suicide

Link to Services:
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National Police Suicide Foundation

Link to Services:
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Cell: (689) 213-0519
Toll Free: 1-863-875-2298

Email Dr. Robert Douglas Jr. directly at:

Safety Forces Support Center

Link to Services:
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Phone: 330.376.0091

Frontline Freedom Adventure Therapy

Link to Services:
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Ohio Department of Admin. EAP Services

Link to Services:
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Phone: 1-800-221-6327

Take Charge Live Well

Link to Services:
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Phone: 614-466-6511


Link to Services:
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Immediate Peer Support Phone: 1-800-267-5463

BHealthy For Life

Link to Services:

Call 0r Text: (833) 336-7543

First Responders Bridge

Link to Services:
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Phone: 614-271-4981

Academy Hour

Link to Services:
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IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment & Recovery

Link to Services:
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Phone: (855) 900-8437

Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters

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Link to Services:

Immediate Peer Support: 


Thomas Bolin II

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Link to Services:

(614) 203-0349

Yoga for First Responders

Link to Services:
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Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance

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Link to Services:

Phone: 847-209-8208
Emergency: 988

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

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Link to Services:

Blue Help

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Link to Services:

Glenbeigh | Cleveland Clinic

Link to Services:
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Phone: 800-234-1001

Fraternal Order of Police

Link to Services:

Phone: (614) 224-5700

Ohio Department of Public Safety First Responder Resources

Link to Services:
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Phone: (614) 466-4470

Optum Live & Work Well

Link to Services:
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National Points Of Contact


National Volunteer Fire Alliance

Link to Services:
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Phone: 1-888-275-6832)

Veterans Crises Line

Link to Services:
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Fire Education

Ohio Fire Academy

Link to Services:
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Ohio Emergency Medical Services

Link to Services:
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CState Fire Science

Link to Services:
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City of Columbus Firefighter Selection

Link to Services:
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Ohio Fire Academy

Link to Services:
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City of Columbus Firefighter Selection

Link to Services:
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Vector Solutions  FirefIghter CEU's

Link to Services:
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