The principles of firefighting can be used in maintaining mental health

In the fire department that I grew up in my father was an Assistant Chief, one night after fighting a fire we were back at the fire station and I overheard someone ask my father about why he asked for more resources before arriving on scene. My father explained that as we were approaching the scene, but still a few minutes away, he had observed an orange glow over the hill and if there was a big fire it was important to get more resources started our way. Out in the rural areas sometimes the next fire department that can provide support may be a long ways away and the sooner you get them started your way the sooner you will have help. Upon arrival of the fire it was discovered that the fire was just a fully involved outbuilding with no threat to any surrounding structures or surrounding vegetation. It was determined at that point that the additional units would not be needed and they could cancel their response and this fire could be worked with the units on scene. My dad summed up his decision to ask for help early instead of waiting longer was that it’s better to say “aw shit”, instead of “oh! Shit”…….(his words, not mine)

When you watch the news in the summer time I am sure you have seen all of the wild fires in the western part of the U.S. Those fires are fought with multiple resources from multiple agencies. The number one resource is of course is the firefighters. Supporting those firefighters are heavy equipment operators, numerous types of aircraft, medical staff, logistical services providing meals, first aid, places to take showers, communications, planning and strategy teams, the list goes on of who and what resources are involved with fighting that fire.

When it comes to firefighting the more resources you have at your disposal the more efficient you can be at fighting that fire. Same goes for a car wreck, having enough personnel and the right tools for the job improves the chances of saving someone’s life. Often in the fire service minutes can be crucial, they may mean the difference in saving a life vs losing a life.

Not every situation will you have the correct resources you need to get the job done as efficiently as you may like. If your tractor breaks down on the farm you may not have the right tool on hand to fix it. So what do you do? Your next option is to figure out if you have a different tool or resource that you can use that will work, maybe it won’t work as well but in a pinch it will get you by to get the job done. If you don’t have any tools that will fix your problem then it’s time to call someone who can help you.

The same principles that are used in firefighting can be applied to maintaining your mental health. Especially for those in the rural setting where the resources for mental health are already slim pickings. If you are a firefighter don’t put off asking for help only from someone who understands a firefighter, if you are a farmer, same thing applies, yes I agree it’s more helpful to ask for help from someone who understands farming, but again, if there are not any resources available that understand farming then by all means don’t give up, it’s okay to reach out to someone who is not educated in your line of work. If you are to the point where you feel you need help it’s more important to get help from someone that can help you regardless of their understanding of your current or past career.  

The resources and tools that available to help you maintain your mental health may come in several different forms, shapes and sizes. The most important part is asking for help if you are struggling, I have had times where I feel a bit down and the person who lifts me up the most really has nothing in common with my life other than they are understanding and always willing to listen and help me any way they can, he may not have all the answers but he sure gives it his best effort.

If you feel that you or a loved one may be at risk of needing some help maintaining your mental health I urge you to do your homework ahead of time, try not to wait till the last minute when all of a sudden you are now in an emergency situation and you are scrambling to find out what resources are available to you, also try to find a couple of sources of help, your first choice that best fits your needs may not be available at the time you need them the most.

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