‘Groundbreaking’ treatment could help first responders with PTSD

Former firefighter Mike Clelland is working with researchers to develop an “instantaneous” online outreach program called E-Home Heroes

By FireRescue1 Staff

ORLANDO, Fla. — A former firefighter is teaming up with a group of researchers to develop an online PTSD treatment program for first responders.

WESH reported that attorney and former firefighter Mike Clelland and a group of local researchers are working on an online outreach program called E-Home Heroes, which first responders suffering PTSD can use to text other people when they are in a crisis.

"When I was at rock bottom, I sent a text to friends that said, 'I don't know what to do,'” former Orlando Fire Department firefighter David Stern said.

Clelland hopes the program will give first responders a way to talk to others when they are in a hard situation.

"I think it's groundbreaking, and I think it's going to do good things for first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress," Clelland said. "It is instantaneous, it has a mechanism where you can text if you're in a crisis, and it's done in the privacy of your own home.”

Founder Rogers Karven said thousands of people are already using the program, but this is the first time it is being made anonymous and accessible to first responders.

"The no-show rate for most counseling sessions is 25-40 percent, when you have a cellphone, our no-show rates last month were under three percent," Karven said.

"It's important because there's a stigma attached to PTSD unfortunately, and this sort of takes that away and allows them to treat privately," Clelland said.

Stern said the program could possibly save lives.

"I'd hate to see the headlines of another firefighter suicide, or something like that, that's why I'm here.”

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