'It's OK To Ask For Help': Oklahoma Firefighter Fundraising Campaign

Encouraging help-seeking behavior: Oklahoma State Firefighters Association advocates for support

Monday, October 9th 2023, 8:57 pm

By: News 9, Sylvia Corkill

The Oklahoma State Firefighters Association has launched a fundraising campaign to help firefighters struggling with mental health.

“That’s the stigma that we are trying to break is that it is okay to ask for help,” said Sheri Nickel, Administrative Director of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. 

While the job of a first responder can be rewarding, fire officials said it’s physically and mentally taxing.

“We get phone calls frequently from firefighters that are asking for help with counseling services for issues they experienced as a firefighter in the field ,” said Nickel.

From tragic car accidents to raging fires, a firefighters work on the front lines often takes a toll.

“It just comes back full circle when you know you tried to save those lives or property and couldn’t get it done.        

Sometimes we have to realize we can't save them all and it weighs heavy on your hearts,” said Nickel.

And while they show up and show out answering the calls for help many times firefighters are left to struggle alone. 

“Unfortunately workers compensation doesn’t cover mental health,” said Nickel. 

Nickle said help can mean the difference between life and death.

“We've had seven suicide claims come into our office of firefighters who committed suicide due to PTSD or due to whatever issues they're dealing with in their minds.

Currently federal benefits will pay a firefighter's family should they take their own life.

“How to we let them commit suicide before we are able to get their families help, when we can just give them maybe a few sessions of counseling?” said Nickel.             

OSFA is hosting a fundraiser, No One Fights Alone. Money raised will help ensure firefighters have a place to turn.

“We want them to have a safe place to say hey, is there any way you can help me?” said Nickel.

If you'd like to learn more about the fundraiser campaign, or would like to donate visit https://osfa.info/events/gFWkT7IRRVTdmBOiYLKZ


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