The New York State Office of Mental Health has awarded the Town of Colonie Department of Emergency Medical Services an $80,000 2-year grant aimed at strengthening suicide prevention efforts for uniformed personnel.
The CARES UP (Changing the Conversation, Awareness, Resilience, Empower Peers, Skills Building/Suicide Prevention for Uniformed Personnel) program was designed by the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center to offer suicide prevention and resiliency trainings.
Research has shown more than 30% of EMS providers show signs of traumatic stress disorders, while in the US, the average worker has a rate of 3.5%. It is critical we recognize the trauma exposure and give EMS workers the tools to deal with the stress they see on a daily basis. Funding from this initiative will be used to deliver comprehensive resilience and wellness training as well as increase suicide prevention efforts for Department EMTs and Paramedics in Colonie.
OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “First responders and uniformed personnel face stress and trauma on a daily basis. This can lead to increased risk of significant issues, including marital/family strain, poor sleep, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance misuse, and even suicide. Identifying and understanding the growing mental health concerns within our uniformed personnel communities highlights the critical need for initiatives like CARES UP. This initiative will help support the men and women who serve and protect us every day, and will also help inform the public about the increased risks, challenges and behavioral health issues our first responders face.”
“First responders are at risk for behavioral health related issues due to their exposure to trauma and death,” stated Supervisor Peter Crummey. “This grant will help ensure that our EMS personnel have access to the resources they need to help them through their challenges, and hopefully define safe harbors for mental health. Our EMS personnel and first responders are always there for us and we are going to be there for them.”
Emergency Medical Services Chief Paul Sugrue added, “Our staff are the most important resource within the Department. We recognize the toll and stresses that our profession can take on the emotional and mental health of our providers. This grant will allow us to provide targeted training to address those needs, provide protective factors, as well as aid in preventing mental health problems”.