I was a firie in Brisbane for 25 years and in that time I had experienced or was involved in many critical incidents that involved injury and death. And some of those were attendances at... We were first in attendance at suicides.
When I joined as a firie, I just expected to be putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff, I suppose. So, I think it was exposure to many different incidents that had eventually caught up with me. An accumulation of all of those things had manifested itself in the form of a nightmare for me. I wasn't getting any rest. I'd often wake up in a panic attack. I didn't plan suicide, but I knew at that stage that essentially what I wanted to do is escape myself.
I approached a station officer on the oncoming shift. It was someone who I respected and trusted, and I just said to him, "Listen, I'm not feeling right physically and mentally." And at that stage, I felt absolutely naked. I felt like I'd just been stripped bare, not a stitch on. But I knew that if I didn't make that approach then I wouldn't get back to feeling right again. So, it was at that stage that I was recommended by that station officer to contact support services for firies as well as my GP, and I did both.
I'd like to think that they can humanise the situation. And what I mean by that is take the pips off their shoulders and come back and try and be where that person is in a way. And sometimes it can be just detected, maybe not so much from the people at the top, because they're not seeing you all the time, but the people that you're working with might be able to see some changes in character, maybe becoming quiet, withdrawn. Yeah, just out of character, not doing the things that they normally would do.
Some sort of psychological help or some sort of counselling help that they can go to that is confidential. Because for me, I was in a culture where we needed to be relied on 100% all the time. That's needing that I need to be physically, emotionally, psychologically altogether when I'm working. Because if we go into a situation together, we want to be coming back out together. To stay at that level if we have that help, that psychological help, whether it's called first aid or whatever it might be, straightaway and then maybe with follow-ups, I think that would be good measures to have in place.