New website for all emergency responders

STV Evening News covered the launch of Lifelines’ new online hub to support Emergency Responders and their mental health. 

The piece included interviews with Emergency Responders who shared their own personal experiences and discussed the importance of having a resource like Lifelines, which raises awareness and supports individuals with psychological injury. Gail Topping from the Scottish Ambulance Service said “I’ve heard someone say, you can’t walk through water and not expect to get wet and I think that when you are dealing with human suffering, some of that might seep into our daily lives as well. You need to put your own oxygen mask on first, we don’t have to be heroes all the time. Just educating the public and educating ourselves will enable that lifeline to be thrown to someone who really needs it.”

33 million 999 calls were made in the last year and research shows that those who respond to them are more likely to experience mental ill health than the rest of the population but less likely to seek help. Murdo Henderson from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said “You feel like you are completely alone, you feel totally isolated and that is not the case. As soon as you take the brave step to say, ‘I’m struggling here’, people empathise with you. Firefighters tend to be very poor at talking about these things. Lifelines is wonderful and helps remind people it will save lives.”

Reference was made to the call from The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, to the Lifelines project in May 2020 to offer his support. Ian Thomson from Police Scotland described the Duke’s support of Lifelines as “sensational, brilliant, to be able to listen to the future king talking about the it being the right thing to ask for help.” Ian then went on to discuss his own experience when he was diagnosed with anxiety 13 years ago “this kind of service wasn’t available, I was told not to tell anybody and that was the advice I was given.” 

A key objective of Lifelines project is to continue to reduce stigma about mental ill health. There is cause for hope with this as Ian explained, “we are now in a situation where I’m sitting here as a Police Superintendent, so not only have I been promoted to a senior manager but I’m talking on national news about my own mental health.”

In the Scotsman Project Lead Gill Moreton said a key part of the Lifelines project is to raise awareness about the possibility of psychological injury and in doing so reduce stigma about mental ill health. The website is aimed at the all staff working in the emergency services, including those not working in immediate response to incidents.

In the same article, John Millar of SFRS said  "It’s about using all the tools available to us as a service to try and protect the 8,000 people who work for us. It's ok not to be ok, it’s ok to take a step forward, put your hand up, and say ‘I need a wee bit of help here’”.

The feedback on social media was very positive with great tweets from across the emergency responder community….

Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden tweeted:

"A fabulous resource for first responders in Scotland. Advice on staying well, wellbeing support, guidance & inspiration. Thank you to all who have helped achieve this"

Edinburgh police tweeted

"We welcome the launch of the new website offering service-specific mental health & wellbeing advice to our emergency services & volunteer responders & their families.

“I've had a good look at your website. Wow. So much valuable information on there. And really well laid out, the short videos are an excellent way to get the message across. Thank you!” Scene Examiner with Scottish Police Authority

“This is a fantastic resource for the emergency services family”

“A brilliant library of information and lived experience. Our 999 family needs this”

“I think it’s great, the design and layout is easy on the eyes and simple to follow and not information overload. You can also get lost in a deep dive as it’s very informative and thorough. I have also passed it on to my wife, specifically the family member or friend section as it explains some of the reasons why I am the way I am with the family (in a safety conscious way!) and how I try and cope with the job in a better way than I could ever try and articulate. Also loved the playlist, books and films etc.”

“An absolutely fantastic resource which will undoubtedly help many people”

"This is a fantastic partnership initiative between the blue light services. So much is asked of our frontline workers who give their all everyday, it’s only right that support is there for them when the going gets tough. Thank you"

“Such an important development. Excellent resource. Emergency responders are literally a Lifeline - this helps look after them and the impact of the work.”

"We ask so much of our emergency services so we must provide the best mental health and wellbeing support. This is a fantastic new resource and will be a lifeline for many."

The Fire Fighters Charity tweeted and released a press statement to say they are proud to b an initiative that brings together a range of tools and resources to help support the mental health of current and retired emergency responders, as well as information for responders’ family and friends.