By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer
At the Fire Service Psychology Association (FSPA) our psychologists and fire service leaders–Like me!–are working to bridge the gap between professional psychology and the fire service.” What does that “bridge” need to do? Well, here’s my “elevator speech.”
- We’re committed to informing and educating psychologists about the fire service culture, what firefighters do, and the trauma and stresses they are exposed to doing their job.
- On the other side of the same coin, we’re committed to informing and educating firefighters and officers about what a psychologist can do to help them. Our initial offering to do that is entitled Demystifying Psychology for Firefighters.
We want to give psychologists the knowledge they need, so that when a firefighter or officer comes to them, that firefighter or officer doesn’t have to explain to the psychologist what it is they do and the things they see, things that they’re having trouble forgetting.
For firefighters and officers, that means understanding that a psychologist is more than just a professional who deals with mental illness. They also have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to help a firefighter or officer process the trauma–not forget it–that’s got their brain “stuck” in a way that helps the individual to “right the ship” and get back to their normal operating mode.
How You Can Help Support the Conference
Presenting a conference takes time, people, and money. So, here’s the “ask!” The FSPA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit recognized by the IRS. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law (Tax ID Number: 82-0643019).
I’ve put up $500 of my money to support this worthwhile effort to improve the mental health services that are available to my sister and brother firefighters. I’m “throwing down the gauntlet” and challenging my fellow firefighters and fire service organizations to “chip in” in whatever means they have available. For example:
- Fire Service Organizations (e.g., IAFF locals, the National Volunteer Fire Council). If your organization can donate $250, and 100 such organizations did that, it would raise $25,000.
- Individual Firefighters and Fire Officers. If such individuals donated $25, and 1,000 individuals did that, it would raise $25,000.
Donating is easy using your PayPal account or major credit card. Click on the button below!
The 6th Annual Conference of FSPA, hosted by the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, will take place in Atlanta, October 5-6, 2023, and will bring together psychologists and fire service leaders for eight informative and educational presentations that will help move that “bridge building effort” forward. Here are the eight presentations schedule for the conference:
- Dr. Carla Sutton Moore: Developing Psychological Wellness Programs in the Fire Service
- Dr. Kellie O’Dare: Developing a Behavioral Health Access Program for firefighters and their families
- Dr. Deborah C Beidel: Responding to Mass Casualties–Mental Wellness Deployments to a Hurricane and a Building Collapse
- Dr. Nicole L. Sawyer: Fire Service Mental Health and Wellness in a Small, Rural State–Filling Gaps and Overcoming Barriers
- Dr. Erica Birkley: Origin and development of the peer support program in the Cincinnati Fire Department.
- Mr. Michael Anthony Schlenk: Using the A.M.E.S. (Assemble, Measure, Execute, Systematic Use) organizational health assessment to assess public safety provider behavioral health
- Gustė Gramaglia: Understanding what motivates firefighters to work and challenges to that motivation
- Dr. Abigail Morris: The effects of sleep deprivation on firefighters