FDIC 2015 Workshops Up Close: "Stress First Aid for Fire and EMS Personnel: Train the Trainer"

By Derek Rosenfeld

On April 21, Tuesday morning workshops at FDIC International 2015 commenced, welcoming students and instructors back for a second day of learning and insight.

In Room 138-9, Fire Department of New York Captain Frank Leto presented "Stress First Aid for Fire and EMS Personnel: Train the Trainer," an informative yet sobering look at the potential mental and psychological issues that can afflict responders after working at particularly traumatic events.  

Leto's main focus was Stress First Aid, a National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation program he has worked with since its inception that supports Firefighter Life Safety Initiatve #13, "Firefighters and their families must have access to counciling and support."

Presenting for the first time at FDIC, Leto said, "I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as firefighters to do everything we can to help each other, and this program opens people's eyes to understand that sometimes it's the simple things that really make a difference to people."


"Talking about behavioral health is no longer a taboo topic in the fire service. Stress First Aid offers some easy-to-use skills that firefighters can add to their toolbox to help each other."


Here, Leto talks about the necessity of stress to a firefighter's job performance and speaks of personal experience.


"One of the most important things we can do as a member of the brotherhood/sisterhood of the fire service is to look out for each other both on and off the fireground."


Next, Leto talks about the difference between chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.


"(Stress First Aid) offers a spectrum of intevention, so it's not one-size-fits-all. A lot of the programs that we've seen in the past have been that way. This is about being creative in the way we help someone. We monitor someone's recovery; we don't do a group or CISM and then we leave."


Here, Leto talks about the U.S. military's Stress Continuum Model, which has been incorporated into Stress First Aid.


Those unable to attend this class can find free, one-hour training for Stress First Aid on the Fire Hero Learning Network at www.fireherolearningnetwork.com.