Through the power of connection, divine intervention and social media, I’ve become friends with Elgin, Illinois Firefighter Chris Marella. Chris owns and operates 4th Shift Fitness, which is a business that aims to educate and train fire service personnel to increase their durability and decrease the potential for injuries and their associated costs.

As fellow team members of the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team, we recognized the need to increase awareness about Fire and EMS suicide, so in December 2019, we launched the initiative known as #DevoteDecember. We had no expectations whatsoever and we were completely humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Both fire service personnel and civilians joined with us in a show of support that is still resonating far and wide.

When we began planning the initiative in November, the number of Fire/EMS suicides was 113 and it rose to 114 by the end of November. By the time we commenced the initiative on 12/1/2019 the number of validated suicides numbered 116. December 31st marked 133 validated Fire and EMS suicides in the USA.

We asked our #DevoteDecember participants to honor the fallen by integrating the number of validated suicides into their already established routines; jumping jacks, miles walked, bodyweight squats or even deep breaths.

Our response was absolutely incredible, so in April we are launching a new joint initiative: #Spring4Change. This initiative will focus on weekly modules of content that are scientifically proven to have a positive effect on mental wellness. We will focus on sleep, nutrition, mindfulness-based practices and physical fitness training. We’re also doing our best to conjure up some experts in each area to assist us with content!

But wait.

AZ, Chris…. Why would you possibly want to forge ahead with an initiative during this trying time? Social isolation is a key factor that absolutely plays into depression and potentially into suicidal ideations. Fire and EMS are currently in the center of a Cat-5 💩 storm and we need mental health and wellness support more than ever. (Thank you COVID-19 virus).

Let us help YOU put science into action. We are evidence-based coaches and the scientific evidence relating mental and physical health is compelling. We welcome first responders AND civilians. We’re all in this together and we need your help getting the word out.

We would love to have you join us. Follow Annette @firesqfitness and Chris @4th_Shift_Fitness on Instagram and stay tuned for more details. Please use the share function on this blog to help us spread the word.

Know a firefighter? Are one? Love one?

We need you. Join the fight with us.