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, 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

Included 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.

Helpletter Issue 3

Articles in this issue cover keeping family relationships strong, the organizational impacts of bullying, PTSD in the rural fire department, planning for retirement, the connection between physical health and mental health, watching out for fellow firefighters, self-care techniques, making positive changes, and incorporating behavioral health into the organizational culture.

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.

Order print copies of this guide in the NVFC store. NVFC members can receive 25 free copies of the guide using the discount code available on the Member Benefits page in the Member’s-Only site.

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

This report explores various firefighter/EMS 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.

Course: Preventing and Coping with Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services

This 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 and is free to NVFC members.

Course: Behavioral Health for the Fire Service

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 and is free to NVFC members.

Course: Addressing Substance Abuse, PTSD, and Other Concerns in the Fire Service

This course examines PTSD and types of substance abuse frequently seen in the fire service, how PTSD can relate to substance abuse, and how to get help through the NVFC’s Share the Load Program. This course is available through the NVFC’s Virtual Classroom and is free to NVFC members.

Course: Stress and Life Management – Finding Your Balance as a Volunteer

This course 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? Learn 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 and is free to NVFC members.