A Girl’s Letter to Her School

In the 14th year of my law enforcement career, I walked into a murder scene comprised of the bodies of my partner and our sergeant. I eventually descended into the depths of PTSD, and found my way out with the help of a trauma counselor and my family. My 15 year old daughter recently wrote to her school counselor about a PTSD presentation at school. She eloquently illustrates that PTSD reaches beyond the first responder–we fight not only for our own health, but also for our loved ones.
 
Tom Mealey is a law enforcement officer currently serving in Alaska.
Dear School Counselors,
 
I was in Mr. Smith’s class yesterday when you were guest speaking. Your talk about PTSD was very informative and appeared to be helpful to a lot of the other kids in there. As someone who has had a lot of experience with trauma and PTSD not just myself, but having two parents with it, it was nice to hear it talked about in school, as that is one more step towards normalizing the discussion of it (which is very important.)
 
As I mentioned before, both of my parents have PTSD. My mother’s comes from her upbringing in an abusive home. Luckily, my mom has had lots of time to process and work through all of her trauma, so she’s been nothing but an amazing mom to us, and we haven’t seen the typical challenges of living with someone suffering from PTSD with her. My father’s, however, has been a result of his career, and has cost my family so much over the years.
 
My father started his career around the same time I was born. Before that, my mom has talked of him being extroverted and social, someone who would take us kids to birthday parties or the park just because. When my mom had my younger sister, we got a Wii (to keep my younger siblings and I busy while they dealt with a newborn.) He’d spend hours with us playing golf, tennis, and all the other games we had. When I was very young and we lived in Virginia, I remember him waking me up at one in the morning, driving me out to the middle of nowhere, and watching the meteor shower with me until the sun started to rise. My love of space came from my dad, who would point out constellations and show seven year-old me the moons around Jupiter through our telescope. That’s how my dad was; I knew so many other kids who didn’t have dads like him, and I knew I was lucky.
 
Unfortunately, the Dad I had known my whole life and grew up with, started to ebb away, and I haven’t seen him since.
He started to come home and not get up off the couch. Absorbed in his phone, he barely spoke to us anymore. It was his way of dissociating from the horrors he saw in his job. We knew this, but it didn’t make it any less difficult when the family wanted to do something together and he never wanted to participate.
 
It didn’t even get bad until his two friends died. They were murdered, and he had to walk over their broken, bleeding bodies, stepping in the blood of men he’d spoken to hours earlier.
He stopped talking to my mother, my siblings, myself. We went through a six month period of not knowing if our family was going to stay together. To my siblings and I, our dad was gone–at this point, he was nothing but an empty shell. He wasn’t really angry anymore, it was more than that. He had become horribly anxious and severely depressed at the same time; he couldn’t sleep and he didn’t care about much of anything anymore. The only thing he could do was his job…he poured the little energy he still had into working to make sure we could pay the rent and eat. But doing that when he was battling PTSD took everything he had and he rarely had anything left to give our family.
 
I remember the day he decided not to come home, the day he said that he needed space from all of us. Even though it was only for a night and he was home the next day, it wasn’t any less painful for our family. It hurt to know he had only enough resources left to go to work that day, but nothing left for us. It felt like his job was more important to him than us. Looking back I think he was so into his job because he didn’t feel like a good dad but he knew he was at least still a good cop.
 
My dad’s job almost took everything away from us, and even though my dad ended up seeking help and is finally here for us again, he will never be the same person he was before I was nine. The violence he’s seen, the people who’ve died, the people who have all tried to kill him…it changed him, understandably so. It took away a lot of what made him the person that he was, the person that made him my dad.
My dad’s not a soldier, and these aren’t things that have happened to him over deployment. He’s a police officer, and he continues to see all of these horrific things almost every day at work.
 
When I was six or seven, I sat on the floor of his room and watched him pull his bulletproof vest on. I don’t even remember him telling me what it was for, but I knew it was to keep the bad guys from being able to hurt daddy. I broke down into tears and told him I didn’t want him to die. My dad has never lied to us; he never told me he wasn’t going to die, that God would protect him, that he would be home for dinner that night. He told me, “When God decides that it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go. You don’t have to worry though, I’m going to fight with everything I have to make it back home to you every night.”
 
I’ve known my entire life that my dad saying goodbye to me in the morning before work could very well be my last time speaking to him. That I could have to be pulled out of school at any moment and be told that he’s either dead or dying. I plan on delivering a speech at his funeral if I ever need to. Of course, I hope to God I never have to, not until he’s old and I get to be with him on his deathbed, but that’s not the reality of his job. His co-workers were murdered because of a dispute over a couch.
This is what my family’s life is. This is how it’s always been, having a cop for a dad. In recent years, the horror, violence, and depravity that he’s seen through his job, protecting people that more often than not want him dead, has been one long, hellish crash course on what PTSD is really like.
 
Which is why, during your lecture, I was rather upset that the only people who were spoken to, and got to relate to what you were saying, were kids with military parents.
 
The 2012 National Surveillance of Police Suicide Study found the rate of suicide among law enforcement was 14 per 100 thousand. (Compared to the general population of 11 per 100 thousand.) The study, however, can’t account for the former and retired police officers who have committed suicide years after their service because of career induced trauma. How much higher would that suicide rate climb if it could?
 
A few months ago, my dad spoke publicly about his ordeal with trauma. In his own words, “We’re out here on a daily basis facing horrors unimaginable to most people and it’s killing us slowly. We’re not even aware of it either. I tell all the cops I can about my experience with trauma therapy, but there’s a statistical countdown to when one of my friends is going to lose the battle with his demons and take his life.”
 
There is very rarely a local support system for cops and their families. Many don’t even see their mental health as an issue, and those who know they have problems usually ignore them at a deadly cost to them and their loved ones.
 
Being a cop’s kid, I tend to put up with a lot of crap. I’m constantly reminded on social media of how much this country hates my dad, reading comments from people saying they’re glad his fallen comrades were murdered in cold blood, and how every cop is a racist, scumbag pig. When I try to relate to my peers with parents in the military, I’m often treated like I don’t know anything about what it’s like. How the only people who have PTSD and struggle are combat vets. People have had the audacity to say that I’m an “over-privileged cop’s brat.”
 
I am in no way trying to detract from veterans and their experiences. I’m a very strong 

supporter of programs that rehabilitate veterans with PTSD. I have had friends cry in my arms because their dads are being deployed again, and I have cried with them. I’ve attended funerals in Arlington cemetery, and seen the grieving loved ones firsthand.
 
I understand that you work primarily with the military and their families. However, in a discussion that I should have felt right at home speaking about, since it’s been such a huge part of my life, I felt very disregarded. I didn’t raise my hand when the class was asked how many people had parents in the military, had been deployed, who had come back completely different people. My dad may not go on deployments, but he can go to work for a single day and come back completely changed forever. I didn’t get to say that I’d absolutely love to be a part of a support group with other people my age with parents in dangerous jobs, because it was for kids with military parents/parents who were deployed.
 
I think that that support group is an absolutely wonderful idea, and would be very beneficial to those with deployed parents, as I can’t imagine what it’s like to be completely without your parent for months at a time. Once again, I know you work primarily with the military and that you may want to continue working solely with that demographic. However, you came to our class to share your area of expertise, which is trauma. Career-based trauma affects millions of people outside of the military. The soldiers and the first responders all wear a uniform, one that is a sign of guardianship, that they will die so that we don’t have to. That they will sacrifice themselves and cause their families immense grief and suffering so that the rest of us may continue to live in a country where we are protected and free.
 
Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and soldiers all do their part to serve and protect the rest of us, at great cost to themselves. They’re all fighting wars, and the ones who don’t lose their physical lives often lose pieces of themselves anyway.
 
They all deserve to have their struggles and sacrifices recognized, and brought to the attention of the general population. Their families deserve it, too. They are the unsung heroes of this world, working behind the scenes to make sure that the front-page heroes have the support they need to continue to defend and protect. They put up with all the night terrors, flashbacks, and episodes so that the ones with PTSD can get up the next morning and continue on with their lives.
 
I’m not saying this for me; in fact, I’m leaving this letter anonymous because I don’t want to make this situation sound like “I felt left out, so I’m mad,” because that’s not it at all. I’m doing this so that hopefully all the other kids in my situation can stop feeling like the experiences of them and their parents isn’t “less of a deal” than others’, because that’s what I’ve often been told. You’re an incredibly nice person with a lot of wonderful knowledge to share and people to help. Your talk about PTSD probably made a lot of kids feel as though they understood theirs, their parents, and maybe even their peers’ experiences better. I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired some people to try and go to therapy, which is amazing!
 
I’m simply being an advocate for those who may not have had the courage to seek help because their experiences were disregarded by others. I believe that you have the perfect platform to tell them that this is not the truth in any way. I hope that this letter inspires you to speak more about the position that first responders are in every day, and the cost that comes to them and their loved ones.

 

–The Daughter of a Police Officer

GOING ABOVE, BEYOND Firefighters help elderly woman move to care center

KEARNEY — In addition to being busy putting out actual fires the last week of January, crews from the Kearney Area Fire and Rescue Protection District also helped put of a proverbial one when they assisted an elderly woman move from her family home to Westbrook Care Center.

During a transport call, Fire Marshal Jeff Fort went above and beyond the call duty while tending to Sue Holt, a woman suffering from medical issues who was in the process of moving from her house to the assisted living facility and care center on Platte-Clay Way.

“She had mentioned that she had no able-bodied people to help her, so he went out there with a couple of the guys and took care of it for her. … That’s the kind of stuff these guys do that goes unseen,” Deputy Fire Chief Mike Desautels said.

Fort said he knew Holt from responding to several medical assist calls. During a recent call, Fort said Holt mentioned being worried about how she was going to get her things, mainly large pieces of furniture, moved from her former residence near First Baptist Church to Westbrook, adding she had family that helped move smaller items but couldn’t lift larger pieces.

“I just told her that if she needed help, just tell us. It didn’t really take that long. It’s what were there for: to help the community. That’s the way I look at it,” Fort said, adding he had assistance with the Jan. 31 move from off-duty fire crew members Hunter Rische and Johnny Lance.

“It was definitely worth taking time off to help her out,” Fort said.

Holt said she was taken aback by the firefighters’ gesture and very appreciative.

“I don’t think it’s something they do as a rule. … I was so surprised. I had just asked if (Fort) knew some guys that could do some moving, and he just said he could take care of it,” she said.

Holt was in a emotional and mentally tough predicament, having medical issues that required frequent ambulance calls and transportation to the hospital coupled with moving from the only home she has ever known, the home she was born in and lived in for 81 years.

“I really didn’t know what I was going to do, so it was really nice of them,” she said.

Fort said he, Rische and Lance, were happy to help.

“Kearney has a large elderly community, so everybody should do their part to help take care of them,” the fire marshal said.

To Fort, who has was raised in Kearney, the helping hand he offered is just being part of the community, a place he described as giving, welcoming and the best place to live.

“Things like this are things I like to show them guys who are new to the district and are coming up. It’s not just about training them for the things we do, but about showing them you can go out and do things in the community and be part of something. It’s more about community and not just about the fire district,” he said. “If my grandparent or my mom and dad needed help, I would hope someone would offer help. So I like to do the same.”

 

By Amanda Lubinski amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com
Feb 8, 2018

http://www.mycouriertribune.com/community_living/firefighters-help-elderly-woman-move-to-care-center/article_29d12adb-a65d-5b77-856c-828572868da1.html

 

Life Line Chaplaincy

Why Chaplaincy?
First responders (police, firefighters and EMTs) constantly face extreme levels of personal danger. Our first responders frequently deal with desperate, traumatic, and emotionally exhausting scenarios. They encounter the worst societal evils known to humanity on a daily basis. Therefore, it is not surprising that statistics show our first responders are at the highest levels of risk for:
• Suicide
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Substance Abuse
• Divorce
While mental health care professionals can help first responders on an emotional and mental level, there is growing awareness of the need for chaplains in providing “spiritual first aid.” The safety and well-being of our communities is directly linked to the mental and spiritual well-being of our first responders. Life Line Chaplaincy exists to offer spiritual support for our brave first responders and their families as they face these crises.

Vision
Our vision is to offer spiritual aid for first responders and their families in SW Fairfield County, CT, and SE Westchester County, NY, by helping them cope with the crises they face, resulting in a positive impact on their lives and their communities.

Objectives
To be available to help first responders deal with traumatic events and scenarios, such as:
• Sandy Hook/Newtown and similar events
• Terrorist attacks
• Loss of life (particularly involving children) from fire, accidents, and violence
• Death of immediate family members
• Serious Illness
• Traumatic investigations involving child porn, child abuse or neglect, sexual trafficking, homicides, and suicides
• Serious work-related injury
• Suicide of a family member
• Coping with PTSD, through one-on-one listening and providing counselors for formal and informal gatherings
To cultivate relationships with first responders so that they feel comfortable calling when there is a need by:
• Going on “ride alongs” with officers
• Meeting informally over breakfast or lunch
• Keeping regular hours at HQ
To strengthen marriages and families by:
• Providing online marriage resources for first responders and spouses
• Distributing free literature designed to help spouses understand each other
• Scheduling free marriage and family seminars for first responders
• Offering free basic marriage and family counseling
To provide “Ministry of Presence” by being onsite with first responders when they encounter a crisis scenario.
To cultivate an atmosphere of respect and appreciation in our communities for our first responders.

Unique Value
Independent — We receive no funding from and have no formal links to local, state, or federal agencies. First responders need not fear that their personal and critical situations may somehow make it back to their employers.
Faith Oriented — We are available to address the spiritual needs of those who acknowledge a spiritual need and request assistance.
Unrestricted Access — We are available to people of all faiths or of no faith.
Extensive and Need-specific Training — Primarily through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, the source of crisis interventions models used in U.S. armed forces, U.S. law enforcement agencies, and first responder agencies throughout the U.S.

Life Line Chaplaincy, a not-for-profit corporation, is governed by a board of directors that reflects the highest standards of excellence in pastoral ministry, chaplaincy, not-for-profit management, financial management, and business. For a complete list of directors, email: info@llchaplaincy.org

Funding
Life Line Chaplaincy is a not-for-profit corporation registered with the State of Connecticut and is funded through the generous contributions of corporate donors and sponsors, as well as by tax-deductible contributions by individual donors and sponsors. To contribute to this vital service for our first responders, visit “Funding” on our Website:
http://www.LLChaplaincy.org

PO Box 3013, Stamford, CT 06905
For more information, contact:
Rev. John Revell, M. Div.
Chaplain, Stamford Police Department, Stamford, CT
Chaplain, Westport Police Department, Westport, CT
President, Life Line Chaplaincy
(203) 517-4762 johnrevell@LLChaplaincy.org
http://www.LLChaplaincy.org

When it comes to bunker gear, how much protection is too much. Protecting against external heat can have internal side effects. Volume 23, No. 1

When discussing personal protective clothing, the operative word is “protective.” The dictionary says protect means to cover or shield from exposure, injury or destruction. Unfortunately, not all the things that want to injure or destroy us are outside the PPE.

Sometimes the danger is right inside the gear with us.Back when I started in this business PPE consisted of a bunker coat and pants made from canvas, rubber boots and a plastic helmet that cost about $7. If you lived in the frigid north and fought fire in the winter, you might have a pair of Red Ball gloves. They were bright orange and great for keeping your hands warm. However, get caught in a flash fire and these shiny mittens melted away, searing your pinkies but good.

As protection, it left a lot to be desired. Then came Nomex?, a revolutionary, heat- and flameresistant fiber that when used in protective fabrics, garments, insulation and other highperformance applications helps provide protection to millions of people and processes worldwide. Nomex was first used by the military in 1965, when the U.S. Navy employed flight coveralls made from Nomex brand fiber. Racing apparel made from Nomex plays a pivotal role in providing the valuable seconds racing professionals need to escape and survive flash fires that result from both on-track collisions and pit accidents.

NASA discovered the benefits of Nomex the hard way. Apollo 1 is a landmark space mission that never left the ground. On January 27, 1967, the command module was destroyed by fire during a test and training exercise at Cape Kennedy. The crew aboard – Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee – died in the accident. Their deaths were attributed to a wide range of lethal design flaws in the spacecraft, ranging from its highly pressurized 100 percent oxygen atmosphere to the lack of protection afforded by the crew’s nylon flight suits.

The subsequent research into better fire protection for astronauts spilled over into the fire service. Two guys with the Houston Fire Department, John King and Jim Bland, approached NASA about developing some cutting edge PPE for firefighters. NASA handled the high tech research and firefighters took care of the low tech testing. That testing consisted of fitting together a test stand made from pipe, draping a fire coat over it and lighting a fire to see how Nomex? compared to the standard cotton coat.

There is no denying that PPE today is vastly superior to what was available in the pre-Nomex and pre-PBI world. And, yet, like Apollo 1, modern fire gear has its own set of design flaws that can turn lethal under the right conditions. As I have said many times and will continue to say ad infinitum, firefighters are protecting themselves to death. Every time a firefighter gets caught in a flash fire, we go back to the drawing board and make the bunker gear thicker, heavier and able to insulate against greater heat.

Unfortunately, insulation cuts both ways. The heat that the bunker gear seals out is also sealed in. In humid, subtropical South Texas the average summer temperature is in the high nineties. Yet, as a young firefighter, I don’t remember responders falling out due to the heat as often as it happens today. Those old canvas fire coats had one big advantage over the modern equivalent – it could breath. I remember routinely going through two and three air bottles at a single fire. Today, a responder working under the same conditions is lucky if he can fight fire for 20 minutes straight.

I can hear the chorus now — “Hey, David, quit living in the past.” True, industrial firefighters rarely get burned wearing modern PPE. But where we do see problems is in stress-related hazards such as heat exhaustion and heart attacks. The bottom line is that while we protect against the heat of the fire we are finding other ways to risk injury. Surely, there is room for compromise in the design of PPE. The sole purpose of PPE should not be to keep firefighters from getting burned. Firefighters do not need to be routinely placed in situations that call for them to walk through fire unscathed. Pushing the bunker gear to its tolerance limits gives responders a false sense of security. A firefighter might never realize the true extent of the danger until the bunker gear fails. Then it’s too late.

Endurance should be measured in how long you are able to deal with the emergency, not how long you are able to wear the PPE. Trading a few degrees of fire protection to extend the time a responder is able to function effectively is not unreasonable.

http://fireworld.com/Archives/tabid/93/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/86859/Daves-Notes–How-Much-Protection-Is-Too-Much.aspx

Police dog saves partner’s life after ambush attack in Mississippi woods

A police dog is being hailed a hero after the K9 saved the life of a Mississippi sheriff’s deputy, ripping into the men authorities say dragged the officer into the woods Monday in an ambush attack.

A manhunt is under way Wednesday for the three suspects who beat Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Frazier and slashed him with a box cutter, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

“They told him they were going to slit his throat, and they were dragging him toward the woods,” Chief Deputy Don Bass told the newspaper.

Frazier’s life was saved Monday by his K9 partner, Lucas, a black Belgian Malinois who police say chased the assailants down before they could slit Frazier’s throat, according to the newspaper.

“He had blood all over him.”

– Sheriff Ricky Adam

Authorities said Frazier was able to activate the button that opens the door to his vehicle, releasing Lucas. Sheriff Ricky Adam told the newspaper the dog bit at least one, possibly two, of the suspects.

“We don’t know how many he got, we just know he had blood all over him,” Adam said.

The attack happened Monday when Frazier got out of his car to inspect a blue Lincoln Town Car with a darker vinyl top that was sitting at a rest stop, according to the newspaper. The driver appeared to be alone and the car’s lights were off.

“When he got out, two other people came out of the woods right by the vehicle, and he backed up and fell, and it was on then,” Adam told the paper.

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at 228-255-9191.

Dover Dash Cam Video Gains Global Attention – News – LawOfficer.com

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A video of a bald and burly Delaware police officer enthusiastically lip-syncing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is getting global attention.

The video, posted to the Dover Police Department’s Facebook page Friday, shows Master Cpl. Jeff Davis in uniform, driving a patrol car while lip-syncing to the popular pop song — sassy head rolls and finger-pointing included.

Department spokesman Cpt. Mark Hoffman said Saturday that he’s gotten calls about the video from news outlets in Australia, England, Germany, and throughout the U.S. It had 845,000 YouTube views and counting by Saturday afternoon.

Hoffman says Davis, a 19-year veteran, is “the class clown” and loved making the video. He says the 48-year-old father of four knows the song so well because of his 10-year-old daughter.

Dover Dash Cam Video Gains Global Attention – News – LawOfficer.com.