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UCF RESTORES, Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative Team Up to Start Web-Based Peer Support Portal for First Responders

Photo: Matt Chesin
Photo: Matt Chesin

It's called Redline Rescue and firefighters, their families and friends can start logging on today for mental health help.

RedlineRescue.org connects firefighters needing mental health support with other first responders who have had similar experiences around trauma.

UCF RESTORES Director Dr. Deborah Beidel says the service is free to any firefighter and is available both as a website and mobile app.

Beidel says firefighters can search for someone based on a number of characteristics including age, gender, marital status and geographical location.

“Lets say that you're in a very little town and you don't really want to talk about this to other people, other firefighters in your area, in your town. You could say I’m going to look for somebody in Tampa.”

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Indian River County Firefighter and FFSHC Director Dustin Hawkins started the service with UCF RESTORES Director Dr. Deb Beidel.

Hawkins wrote the idea for Redline Rescue down on a napkin the night his brother firefighter killed himself. That was before his own suicide attempt.

He says this resource is needed because for far too long in the fire service, a culture of silence meant people were dying from PTSD instead of asking for help. 

“What I found out is that this affects all firefighters. If you have a living breathing soul and you’re hardwired for this job. You will respond even on your darkest days to help a neighbor. I took out the trash for my neighbor the day that I tried to kill myself.”

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Clinicians with RedlineRescue.org have receive special training, including ride-alongs with the fire service.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.