Fire chief opens up about mental health after firefighter-paramedic's suicide
Henderson Fire Chief Shawn White said his goal is to provide more resources and start a dialogue about mental health
By EMS1 Staff
LAS VEGAS — A fire chief is addressing mental health issues in the fire service after two of his firefighters died by suicide.
Henderson Fire Department Chief Shawn White said his goal is to provide more mental health resources and create an environment for open conversation, KTNV.com reported.
Officials announced the death of firefighter-paramedic Robbie Pettingill on Sept. 17, who died by suicide. According to the department, Pettingill had been battling PTSD from job-related stress. And, just four months prior to his death, Pettingill's father – a retired firefighter from the same department – also died by suicide.
"Historically it's something that we don't typically talk about," Chief White said. "Matter of fact, when we started in the late 80s you just didn't talk about this. You just sucked it up."
To address the issue head-on, Chief White said the department is starting an important dialogue about mental health.