Share the Load™ Resources

Behavioral health is a subject not often talked about in the fire service, but it affects every department and emergency responder in some way or other. The NVFC, through its Share the Load™ Support Program, has developed a series of resources to help educate and train first responders about the importance of behavioral health and provide resources, tips, and tools to help departments, first responders, and families address these issues.

Share the Load Helpletter

This newsletter features articles from subject matter experts and fire service veterans who provide tips, tools, and resources to help first responders take a proactive approach in addressing many behavioral health issues. Share this publication with your entire department and use it as a reference to help you develop, expand, and maintain your department’s behavioral health program.

Helpletter Issue 1

Included in this issue are signs and symptoms of common behavioral health issues, tips for managing stress, information about the Fire/EMS Helpline, tips for keeping family relationships strong, the need to break the stigma of behavioral health in the emergency services, recognizing the importance of retirement planning in the fire service, steps for developing a department behavioral health program, information on Firefighter Life Safety Initiative 13, and more.

Helpletter Issue 2

helpletter-2016-coverIncluded in this issue are tips for talking to a fellow firefighter or EMT who is in need; a firsthand account of a firefighter who survived PTSD, addiction, and a suicide attempt; why behavioral health affects emergency responders and how to create a culture of support; resources for dealing with a line-of-duty death; the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis; tips for family members on how to help an emergency responder through difficult times; ideas on how to destress and build comradery; information about addiction; how to address behavioral health challenges throughout one’s time in the fire service; and dealing with mass casualty incidents.

Share the Load Poster

Share-the-Load-Poster-update-imageThe Share the Load™ program poster encourages first responders to reach out if they need help. Hang a copy of the poster up at the station to remind personnel that help is available. The poster promotes the Fire/EMS Helpline, a free, confidential phone line available 24/7 to provide support to first responders and their families experiencing any behavioral health issue, such as PTSD, depressions, stress, addiction, and more. The PDF poster size is 16.5”x21”. To request hard copies of the poster, email Be sure to include the quantity you need, your name, and your mailing address.

Share-the-Load-Ad1-imageShare the Load Ad

This ad can be placed in department newsletters and fire service publications to encourage first responders to reach out if they need help. It also includes the number for the National Fire/EMS Helpline to let firefighters and EMTs know help is available when they need it. The ad is 8.5”x11”.

What to Expect: A Guide for Family Members of Volunteer Firefighters

Joining the volunteer fire service means a lifestyle change not only for the individual volunteer, but also for their entire family. To help family members navigate the volunteer fire service life, the NVFC partnered with to create this resource for spouses, children, parents, siblings, and significant others of volunteer and paid-on-call responders. It introduces family members to the basics of the volunteer firefighter life, provides guidance for keeping family relationships strong and being part of the fire department family, and contains an array of tips and resources to help first responder families adjust to this lifestyle.

Download the guide for free, or order print copies from the NVFC store. For a limited time only, NVFC members can order up to 25 print copies for free; access the discount code from the Member Benefits page of the Members-Only section of the NVFC web site.

A corresponding course in the NVFC Virtual Classroom is also available for members of fire service families. Access What to Expect: Helping Your Family Adapt to the Volunteer Fire Service.

Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services: Adopting a Proactive Approach to Behavioral Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention

This report explores various firefighter/EMT behavioral health concerns and identifies resources and best practices for mental wellness and suicide prevention in the fire and emergency services. It also includes data from a behavioral health survey conducted by the NVFC. In addition to the report, a webinar providing an overview of the report and survey is also available.

Fire Department Assessment and Communication after a Firefighter or EMT Suicide

This document provides tips to help regional, state, and national association representatives communicate with department leadership and personnel to help them deal with grief and build relationships following a firefighter or emergency responder suicide.

Preventing and Coping with Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services

The NVFC, with support from the U.S. Fire Administration developed this online training course focusing on suicide awareness and prevention. The three-module course examines the signs and symptoms preceding suicide, highlights available resources for departments and individuals, and discusses the healing process when coping with a firefighter suicide. This course is available through the NVFC’s Virtual Classroom.

Behavioral Health in the Fire and Emergency Services

This course examines the cultural progress, future potential, and concerns surrounding behavioral health in the fire and emergency services. A variety of tools, resources, and programs to help those in need are also covered. this course is available through the NVFC’s Virtual Classroom.

Brotherhood vs. Parenthood: Finding your Life Balance

This webinar looks at all the roles a volunteer firefighter plays throughout their lives. From your role as an employee to spouse to parent to firefighter, how do you emphasize the importance, purpose, and balance of each role? This webinar will help you identify strategies for prioritizing each aspect of your life to help you achieve balance and time management. This course is available through the NVFC’s Virtual Classroom.

Putting Out the Fire: Stress Resilience Strategies

Stress is an underlying risk factor that affects a majority of the population, especially first responders. Can you identify your current stressors? Do you know what types of stressors exist? Do you know the types of stressors to which you are susceptible? This webinar helps you key in on the types of stressors most prominent for firefighters and how to successfully manage stress as it arises. This course is available through the NVFC’s Virtual Classroom.

Fire Service Suicide and Behavioral Health Concerns

This webinar provides an overview of behavioral health issues effecting the fire and emergency services, with a focus on firefighter suicide warning signs and prevention. The webinar is available through McNeil and Company’s Emergency Service Insurance Program (ESIP) platform. Visit and sign-in if you have an existing account, or register as a student using access code 6832.