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'It's personal': Englewood Fire Chief advocates for mental health services

Chief Kevin Easton is committed to providing his staff with access to mental health care services.
Posted at 7:38 PM, May 16, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — Although May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Englewood Fire Chief Kevin Easton advocates for access to mental health services year-round.

Easton has been in the fire service for 37 years and said dealing with traumatic situations comes with the job.

“These men and women see some horrific stuff,” said Easton. “It's kind of a cliche but I say it occasionally that I wish my mind could forget some of the stuff my eyes have seen,” said Easton. “It does weigh on you.”

According to Easton, EFD already uses a variety of programs that can help its firefighters work through mental health issues like PTSD and relationship counseling. To help access those programs, Easton subscribed to Firestrong.org, a website with information to help firefighters with mental health needs.

Additionally, the website collects and displays mental health programs and information specific to EFD that his staff can use.

Firestrong
Easton shows an online anxiety assessment that is available through EFD's Firestrong subscription.

“The Firestrong program is a repository that allows us to put all the information in one location so they can log on and everything is there, they don’t have to go searching for it,” said Easton.

Easton told Fox 4 that he is committed to making sure his staff has the resources they need to treat mental health issues and that additional resources are constantly being researched and added to their program.

“Between 2017 and 2022, 247 Florida first responders took their own lives, and that's a phone call I never want to get,” said Easton. “So, it's personal for me.”

Firestrong has a 24/7 crisis line for firefighters and their family members. It can be reached anytime at 844-525-FIRE (3473).