Supporting Our First Responders – On and Off the Job

AT&T Blog Team
May 10, 2022
Public Safety

Supporting Our First Responders – On and Off the Job

For many, the month of May signifies an opportunity to boost awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. For us, it’s also about thanking first responders who make daily unseen sacrifices as they work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.

But, by its very nature, emergency response is stressful. This response has significant mental and physical impacts. Rates of PTSD, depression and anxiety among public safety personnel far exceed the rates of the general population.

  • It’s estimated 20-25% of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress.1
  • One study in law enforcement found a more than 20-year difference in life expectancy compared to the average American male.2

With storm season fast approaching and wildfires already raging, first responders are working harder than ever to protect our communities. These are the brave people who run toward emergencies, and its important for all of us to care for their health and wellbeing.

This May, we are participating in Mental Health Awareness Month by shining a light on the personal sacrifices made by first responders and the work FirstNet®, Built with AT&T is doing to support them.

Given their hard work and sacrifice, we want to ensure first responders have access to resources that can help them stay physically and mentally healthy. FirstNet is dedicated to supporting first responders and prioritizes their wellbeing through our initiatives.

The FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition (FNHWC) integrates the expertise and perspectives of first responders, community members, industry leaders and academia to support the health, wellness and readiness of first responders.

  • FNHWC now has more than 2 dozen member organizations representing over 5.1 million first responders across the country.

FirstNet’s animal assisted therapy initiative aims to provide some calm and care to first responders working through crises. The program, named “ROG the Dog” after the FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG), pairs trained Labradoodles with overtaxed first responders.

  • These types of services have been proven to decrease stress levels and boost morale – often serving as an antidote to chaos.
  • Through a collaboration with Global Medical Response, FirstNet agencies now have nationwide access to 30+ certified therapy dogs.

The FirstNet app catalog includes mental health apps designed to help first responders experiencing mental health distress or apps simply to engage with others in addressing social support for their overall mental wellness. Some of these include:

FirstNet is sponsoring and supporting nonprofits that address mental health in the public safety community directly through valuable trainings that can transform the lives of our first responders and their families.

  • Boulder Crest is a nonprofit that develops and delivers Posttraumatic Growth-based programs. As exclusive sponsor of its First Responder Initiative, we hope to help scale the program nationally over the next two years.
  • First H.E.L.P. provides communities across the country with world-class mental health training through their #ResponderReadiness Workshop series. We are working to ease the burden for under-funded, rural communities by providing high-quality training at no cost.
  • The Quell Foundation strives to reduce the number of suicides, overdoses and incarcerations of people living with mental illness. We are proud to underwrite the Foundation’s first responder mental health preparedness and training program, as well as their documentary “Lift the Mask –First Responders Sound the Alarm.”

Supporting the needs of the public safety community is one of our top priorities – this month and every month. We believe programs aimed at improving mental health and wellness are an important step to properly support the brave individuals on the frontlines who work tirelessly to keep us safe.

1 Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (May 2018). First Responders: Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Responses, and Trauma.

2 Violanti, J. M., Fekedulegn, D., Hartley, T. A., Andrew, M. E., Gu, J. K., & Burchfiel, C. M. (2013). Life expectancy in police officers: a comparison with the U.S. general population.

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