New Maryland Facility Aims to Help Firefighters Overcome Health Issues
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Military service members and law enforcement personnel often suffer emotional problems related to their duties. But firefighters are also liable to experience work-related traumatic stress and other health problems.
That’s why the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), partnering with Advanced Recovery Systems, created the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery in suburban Maryland. The facility opened earlier this week.
The addiction treatment facility was designed specifically to help IAFF members who are struggling with addiction, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other health challenges. The 64-bed facility includes 16 beds designated for patients who need to detox treatment.
State-of-the-Art Facility Encourages Physical Activity
The IAFF Center is located on a 15-acre campus in Upper Marlboro. It has a state-of-the-art gym and other features to encourage physical activity and help in recovery.
Firefighters must deal with disasters and possible deaths at any given time, but it doesn’t mean that some of these images and experiences don’t stay with them,” IAFF president Harold Schaitberger told WTOP News.
“Sometimes they’ll use firehouse humor to kind of cover up their pain. Unfortunately, sometimes they turn to alcohol or drugs, other sources of addiction to try to tamp down that pain that they’re feeling internally,” Schaitberger added.
The IAFF Center is overseen by Craig L. Katz, M.D. and Abby Morris, M.D. Katz designed a program for first responders in the aftermath of 9/11 and Morris is an expert in behavioral healthcare. She is the center’s medical director and psychiatrist.
She said, “It’s not just going to be about their mental health. It’s going to be how they’re sleeping and how much caffeine they’re consuming, and how much exercise they’re getting and how they’re eating.”
The center will hold a special ceremony in the facility’s "Renewal Plaza" when a firefighter is ready to return to duty. The ceremony appropriately includes the ringing of a bell.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” has just been published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.