Helping the helpers
The origins of EMS Gives Life and the Code Green Campaign, and the FBHA Suicide Register
Suicide is always preventable. If you are having thoughts of suicide or feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 988. Counselors are also available to chat at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Remember: You deserve to be supported, and it is never too late to seek help. Speak with someone today.
This episode of Inside EMS is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit lexipol.com.
As we lead up to Lexipol’s First Responder Wellness Week, this week’s cohosts Rob Lawrence and Kelly Grayson learn about the work of two important EMS and public safety charitable organizations – EMS Gives Life, with Executive Director, Christine Fiechter, and the Code Green campaign with Treasurer and Board Member RJ Morrison.
Top quotes from this episode
“Who knew you could donate a portion of your liver – many of us don’t and that portion of your liver you donate grows back in full size and functionality in a short period of time.” —Christine Fiechter
“This is a community that has a very hard time asking for help. They don’t want to ask for help, they want to sit silently; they are used to being the helper, it’s very awkward to ask for someone to donate a kidney.” — Christine Fiechter
“We bring to your attention the names of people that have passed through suicide or have passed through medical or accidents, etc., but we never talk about the people that didn’t – what about the people that did go and get help, that did reach out, that did ask for support, and we don’t read their name, because they were successful.” — RJ Morrison discussing the Code Green “Names not read” tag line
“No one knew how many of our brethren took their own lives unless someone reported it, or said so in an obituary, and we still don’t know how many died in accidents because they were depressed or suffering from PTSD. It’s hard to do good work if you don’t have the statistics and the [FBHA Register] is a crucial initiative.” — Kelly Grayson
01:53 EMS Gives Life intro
03:27: Code Green intro
05:23 – EMSGL origin story – Will Lindberg
11:00 – Code Green origin story
15:50 – Advice to employers
18:00 – Advice for donors and getting a donation credit
21:45 – Code Green and employers
27:00 – The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance Suicide Register
29:10 EMSGL Call to action
The Code Green Campaign is a first responder oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Code Green serves all types of first responders, including firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, police, corrections, air medical, and search and rescue personnel. The name is a combination of the color for mental health awareness (green) and the “code alerts” used in emergency services. If someone is having a stroke or heart attack, first responders will call a “code stroke” or “code STEMI.” The idea is that Code Green is calling a code alert on the mental health of first responders.
EMS Gives Life’s mission is to educate first responders on how they can participate in organ donation, and then provide support if they choose to do so. EMS Gives Life believes that the EMS community has a culture of caring and generosity that makes it a great fit to give the gift of life through organ donation. The organization does everything possible to support those who wish to explore the process and take steps towards organ donation.
About our guests
RJ Morrison, CCT-EMT-P, is an administrator with extensive experience working in various EMS systems. Having started as an EMT-basic and then becoming a paramedic, RJ has held multiple roles within the field of EMS, including dispatcher, biller, field supervisor, director of communications, director of safety and purchasing, director of operations and general manager. Serving in these various capacities has allowed RJ to understand the intricacies of the different roles within EMS, making him a particularly effective leader in this field.
Teaching has always been a passion for RJ. With many years of experience teaching numerous EMS courses, including several years leading the paramedic course at Northeastern University, RJ has developed a reputation as an effective instructor and mentor who has a particular sensitivity that allows his students and those working under his supervision to feel comfortable, understood and motivated to improve the field of EMS as a whole. RJ maintains certifications as a Certified Ambulance Coder (CAC), Certified Ambulance Compliance Officer (CACO) and Certified Ambulance Privacy Officer (CAPO) through the National Academy of Ambulance Compliance. His experience and training have allowed him to create effective policies that keep employees safe while keeping organizations operational, productive and marketable.
Christine is the executive director of EMS Gives Life. Promoting the mission of EMS Gives Life is not just a job for Christine; it’s personal. Christine’s mother, who had multiple myeloma, received a stem cell transplant from a stranger that gave her the gift of several more years of life with her family. Christine has also had a family connection to the EMS and first responder community for more than 30 years and takes pride in giving back to those who give so much to others. With more than 25 years of professional experience in program development and management, administration and conference planning across a variety of non-profit sectors, Christine embraces this startup venture with EMS Gives Life as an exciting challenge. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the State University of New York at Albany, and a B.A. in psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Genealogical Research, both from Boston University.
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