NEW YORK, NY—The Robert Irvine Foundation this week issued a $20,000 grant to Friends of Firefighters, a non-profit charitable organization offering mental health and wellness services to FDNY firefighters.
The money arrives at a critical time for New York’s Bravest, who are serving on the front lines in the United States’ worst hot zone in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of this writing, the United States has 477,191 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 159,937 are from the state of New York.
Worldwide, there are about 1.6 million confirmed cases.
FDNY firefighters don’t just respond to fires, but all types of emergencies, and have served as first responders to thousands of patients falling ill with COVID-19.
Not incidentally, 3,000 FDNY members are out on medical leave.
“They do this job at incredible risk to their own health and safety,” Irvine said. “It cost so many of them their lives on 9-11. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we don’t yet know what the cost will be to the first responders, but the time to start supporting them is now; we can’t afford to wait to assess the extent of the devastation.”
Mental trauma comes with the job of being any type of first responder, be it a cop, fireman, or member of the military. Seeing human devastation up close every day takes a heavy toll, especially when you start losing friends and teammates.
Robert Irvine Foundation Executive Director Dave Reid—a former Army Ranger, Purple Heart recipient, and veteran of the wars in the Middle East—knows this all too well.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with obvious, visible, physical wounds,” Reid says. “We still don’t have a handle on dealing with mental trauma very well. But the more mental health and wellness services we can make available to first responders, the more likely it is they’ll use these services.
“And everyone in this line of work has lost teammates to suicide because of the mental toll the job takes. Trust me; services like the ones provided by Friends of Firefighters absolutely save lives.”
To learn more about Friends of Firefighters, click HERE.
To learn more about the Robert Irvine Foundation, click HERE.