Inside EMS Podcast: How EMS can get help for depression

Host Kelly Grayson talks about his personal struggles with mental health issues, and discusses with host Chris Cebollero the need for more agency resources

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In this week’s Inside EMS Podcast, hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson talk about the need to raise awareness about mental health issues among EMS providers in light of Denver paramedic Debbie Crawford and Canadian paramedic Greg Turner, who both recently died from suicide.

Grayson serves on the board the Code Green Campaign which aims to raise awareness about responder suicides and mental health, and has publically shared his own struggles with depression.

“It’s become obvious,” he said, “that the resources that most agencies have in place are not enough.”

Grayson talks about his own challenges and although he never entertained the idea of suicide, “what I did was withdraw from life,” he said.

He stopped socializing, stopped doing all the things he enjoyed, had no energy and drive, and focused on all the things he had to do that “got him paid,” but he didn’t realize he was suffering from depression.

“It was only after my wife left me 10 years ago that I realized what it was,” he said.

Grayson points out that Crawford co-founded and chaired a committee recently formed by the Denver Health Paramedic Division to help fellow paramedics dealing with PTSD and mental illness caused by the job.

“She knew all the resources available to help people … and for her it was still not enough,” Grayson said. “I’ve got to tell you, I’m at a loss for words.”

Cebollero said it’s important to bring awareness to the topic on the show.

“Hopefully,” he said, “we can make a difference in saving our peers.”

In the news

In the news, they discuss an investigation into Arizona firefighters accused of using excessive force with a patient. Two fire captains violated policies when they punched and cursed at a patient during a medical call. According to the reports, the firefighters say the patient “threw a back-handed punch and 'cold-cocked,” and the patient said he was looking for a fight. 

Cebollero said we also have to keep in mind that in the heat of the moment, if someone hits you, ‘fight or flight’ is human nature, and a person’s first reaction is  often to defend themselves.

“That doesn’t change the fact,” Grayson said, “That we as providers need to be above retaliation.”

They also discussed Buffalo, N.Y. ambulance that caught on fire and Cebollero wondered if EMS in general is hanging onto to vehicles that are too old.

“Are we pushing our luck,” he asked, “with how long we keep resources on the street?”

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