The firefighters and EMT First Responders of Firehouse 3 in Westland, MI rarely forget the hundreds of runs they are called upon to partake in within their scope of caring for their community.
Listening to them in a private sit down interview setting in the firehouse, you can quickly understand that to be in this line of work you have to know that, not only is it physically taxing, but also many of the traumatic situations you walk into could leave you with images etched in your memory that can last a lifetime.
Capt. Mitch Tokarski, Firefighter EMT Rescue Andrew McNeil and Brian Knapp tells us just how difficult it is to walk into a home of a suicide. They have to attempt to revive a patient and at the same time witness how the tragic situation affects family and loved ones at that very moment. Young and old, these men have seen all walks of life, rich or poor from society, who take their own lives. Brian, being a father of two said, "Nothing tears me up more than having to go to a home of a teenager suicide and seeing a father trying to make sense of it."
In their profession, while the job is heroic and richly rewarding, firefighters are often witness to shocking tragedies.
Captain Mitch reflected on 9-11: "I remember watching that day unfold on TV. All I could think about is how many firefighters are in those buildings and can't get out. It still haunts me today."
Captain Mitch went on to explain how today in America, there is a real problem with firefighters and suicide incidents.
In 2014, roughly twenty-some firefighters have taken their own lives. Some in the firefighting community say that despite their image of stoicism in the face of danger, it only masks a dark secret - that firefighters themselves endure intense, emotional turmoil and that some take their own lives, unable to cope with the pain.
Captain Mitch and the guys all agree it's important to be able to talk about your work shift to your spouse or loved ones. "Andrew, you have to be able to release that emotional valve."
We are certain that our interviews with these brother firefighters will help us with our film Death is not the Answer.