For Firefighters

The 2nd Alarm Project is here to help our bravest with the challenges that face the fire service. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or struggling with trauma, you are not alone. These mental health struggles are very common among firefighters. Depression rates are 5x higher for firefighters than the general population, and up to 37% of firefighters suffer from PTSD.

But we want you to know that there is hope. Our program offers free resources, including telehealth services that allow you to connect with a licensed counselor virtually. Our providers understand first responder culture, and specialize in helping with the treatment of common struggles facing firefighters, including stress, depression, PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and more. We offer a safe, confidential space where there’s no shame in asking for help with these common challenges. In addition, we are working hard to provide capacity building opportunities for peer support networks in our area of the state. Building on shared experiences and connectedness that is the “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” of the fire service can reduce severity of many mental health issues experienced by firefighters. We also believe that in order to effectively reach firefighters, we must also provide resources and supports for their spouses and family members.

Our mission is to support the behavioral health needs of professional & volunteer firefighters from recruitment to retirement. Full program offerings include:

  • Telemedicine / Telepsychiatry
  • Peer Support Capacity Building
  • 24/7 Virtual Clinic
  • Education & Awareness
  • Leadership Development and Culture Change
  • Resources & QuickLinks
Firefighter Team Shot
Photo Credit: JJ Cassetta @firedeptshutterbug

It’s ok to ask for help. To access all of these free resources and offerings, including contact information for trained peer support teams, download our app.

If you simply want to make an appointment with a network provider, schedule your free counseling now.

What to expect from 2nd Alarm Tele-Counseling

When you click on the link to call our tele-counseling program, you are connected with a trained intake coordinator (typically a nurse, but might also be a different type of credentialed health care provider) at our 24/7 virtual clinic. The intake coordinator will gather some important information, including assessing your safety. The coordinator will help determine what level of care and type of provider is best for your presenting needs, and will make a referral and an appointment for you to “see” the provider within 24-48 hours of your call. Our professional providers are all licensed, trauma informed, experienced, and first responder proficient. We strive to include Florida-based providers from our panhandle area to the greatest extent possible, however based on the information you provide and your assessed needs, the intake coordinator may schedule you with a licensed provider from another area to reduce any wait time. The intake coordinator will answer any questions you may have about your first appointment, including where and how to log in for your secure and confidential tele-health session, and well as direct you to some required pre-appointment paperwork. Keep in mind telehealth services are only available to career, volunteer, and retired firefighters in the 2nd Alarm project counties (Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Leon, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwanee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington). You will be asked to provide a form of verification to participate in our services prior to your first appointment.

For the Department

Peer Support Team development and capacity building

Is your department interested in developing a new or augmenting an existing peer support team? The 2nd Alarm Project can provide standardized peer support training developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) or through the University of Central Florida (UCF) RESTORES program.

IAFF Peer Support Training

The peer support training developed by the IAFF (you do not need to be a union member to participate) is a two-day interactive course team-taught by master instructors who are firefighters and experienced peers. The training focuses on:

  • Active listening skills
  • Suicide awareness and prevention
  • Crisis intervention
  • How to identify local resources
  • How to build relationships with local behavioral health providers

After completing the training, members are IAFF Trained Peer Supporters and have the necessary knowledge and skills to

  • Provide support to their peers
  • Educate brothers and sisters about behavioral health (e.g., PTSD and resilience)
  • Serve as a bridge to behavioral health programs and community resources
  • Build or enhance their Peer Support programs.

IAFF trained peers will serve as advocates providing education and awareness so more firefighters may recognize the early signs and symptoms of mental health issues and seek treatment, decrease stigma regarding mental health and substance abuse issues, increase access and linkages to appropriate professional treatment, and can empower families and community groups to broaden and link to all available community resources.

The IAFF has postponed in-person peer support trainings until January 2021 due to COVID-19. However, currently we can still register your team members and schedule the training for early 2021 if you are interested in participating.

REACT Peer Support Training

The REACT Peer Support training developed by UCF Restores is designed to introduce, improve, and strengthen peer support skills among first responders. The foundation of the REACT curriculum is based on the science of learning. Specifically, REACT provides all participants with mastery experiences, which increases participant’s belief in themselves that they can provide peer support to their peers. These mastery experiences occur by first learning about the skill, observing the skill in-action, practicing the skill, followed by feedback about their performance. Knowledge and skills are progressively introduced to participants with each module building on the previous. Material is presented in a manner that leverages first responder job-related principles by placing these already familiar job skills in the framework of peer support.

By the end of this course, participants will be able to understand and implement principles of peer support.

  • As it relates to recognizing different stress injuries common among first responders.
  • As it relates to evaluating the presence of a stress injury in a peer.
  • As it relates to advocating for appropriate resources to be provided to a peer.
  • As it relates to coordinating higher levels of care for the peer.
  • As it relates to tracking a peer’s progress over time.

Contact us to get more information about peer support team trainings for your department.

As of July, 2020, REACT training will occur over a HIPAA-compliant Zoom link. Training materials and format will be identical to previous face to face training. Experiential training (practicing communication skills and receiving feedback from our clinicians) will occur in smaller Zoom breakout rooms, allowing us to keep this unique aspect of our training program.

Please contact us to get information about participating in REACT or IAFF trainings.

In addition, the 2nd Alarm Project has partnered with the Texas First Responder Resiliency Program to offer several additional virtual trainings to firefighters in our area, including:

Basic Science of Trauma

Focuses on the physiology of trauma, the benefit of the peer support process, and the how-to of strengthening resiliency.

Real- Life Application Product:
How to Build Your Personal Resiliency Plan Workbook

How to Build a Resiliency Program

Focuses on the physiology of trauma and peer support. Finishes with a workflow for building a department resiliency program.

Real-Life Application Product
Department Resiliency Program Workflow for First Responders

Family Factor Training

Focuses on the physiology of trauma and the importance of communication in the first responder family. Helps couples to strengthen family resiliency.

Real-Life Application Product
Family Resiliency Plan Workbook

First Responder Culture for Clinicians

Six weeks of theory and application combined with conversation topics between first responders and clinicians.

Real-Life Application Product
Multiple pdf tools that can be used in practice

In all courses, instructors recommend a solution-focused peer-to-peer process that gives participants the tools to help first responders reactivate their own internal strengths.

For more information on these courses, please contact us.

Leadership Development and Culture Change

The 2nd Alarm Project aims to provide firefighters with the resources they need to face behavioral health issues head on. An essential part of our charge is to connect with fire department senior leadership to identify strategies to address behavioral health issues and improve mission readiness, preserve the force, and improve the long term health of firefighters, families, and retirees. Our experienced Leadership Development and Executive Coaching team, Readiness2Lead LLC, will work with your department’s senior leadership to help leaders adopt a more positive, trauma-informed perspective on help seeking for mental health issues. The training will also include discussion regarding policy shifts which may be necessary to lessen career impacts to those openly seeking treatment. The trainings will stress the role of leaders in the chain of command purposefully engaging with men and women on the line.

Target Audience:

Department Leadership: Chiefs, Captains, Lieutenants, Peer Support teams, other “thought leaders”.

Learning Objectives:
  • Describe and explain factors driving mental health stigma in the department and perceived structural/attitudinal barriers to care
  • Identify organizational (i.e. chain of command) and individual firefighter actions to mitigate and/or remove the barriers to help seeking
  • Determine leadership steps required to change the culture and reduce stigma surrounding help seeking and self-identifying
  • Develop and prioritize short- and long-term actions to mitigate stigma and discuss the resultant benefits
  • Evaluate policies required to guide leadership on ensuring personnel with behavioral health issues are treated appropriately

To see all of our free resources and to get started, download the app today.

Contact us now to sign up for no-cost leadership development workshops.

For Family Members

Even heroes need help sometimes, and as a family member, you need resources and support, too. If you or your loved one is struggling, know that you are not alone. Behavioral health challenges including stress, depression, PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, and relationship issues are common among firefighters as well as spouses and family members of first responders.

Family members and spouses of firefighters can download our app and participate in additional program components.

Your loved one could be struggling and may not want to ask for help – make it easy by sharing this information with them!

Questions? We have answers.

For Clinical Providers

The 2nd Alarm Project is proud to offer no-cost behavioral health services and resources to firefighters across the Florida Panhandle. Our program is a collaboration of local university faculty and staff, community partners, and first responder organizations from the Florida Panhandle. The leads for the 2nd Alarm collaboration are with Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee and the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola and our services are funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the behavioral health needs of professional & volunteer firefighters from recruitment to retirement. Struggles like stress, depression, PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, and relationship issues are common amongst first responders, and many times these challenges go undiagnosed and untreated due to shame and stigma. We work to break down these barriers and offer the resources these heroes need to heal.

A primary part of our program includes no-cost tele-counseling for firefighters in need. We’re always looking to build capacity in local communities for licensed, professional, and first responder proficient clinicians to help us provide these life-changing services. Our network providers are made up of highly-qualified, credentialed professionals that are dedicated to providing behavioral health support to these heroes. We are accepting inquiries from providers who meet the following qualifications to join our network:

  • Clinicians who are FL licensed and have several years of experience working with trauma and stress-related disorders, as well as directly with first responders.
  • Formal training in at least one evidenced-based mode of intervention for ASD/PTSD (EMDR, CPT, CBT, Prolonged Exposure etc.).
  • History of working with first responders who have substance use disorders, or in the addictions field
  • Knowledge about, and willingness to treat SUDs using motivational interviewing and/or other evidenced-based approaches
  • Experience working with couples, and flexibility to involve adult significant others in therapy process as appropriate
  • Willingness to participate in required free additional training in working with first responders (CEU opportunities available)
  • Clinicians must be willing to join network, deliver services through our telehealth platform, and accept reimbursement structure

If you’re interested in working with first responders and becoming a network provider, give us a call at (850) 561-2880 or fill out our contact form below.

Interested Clinicians can also visit the resources below to learn more about working with first responder populations.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

This product was supported [in part] by grant number H79FG000149 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The content does not necessarily reflect the views or polices of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).