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How a Utah firefighter helps to prevent suicide

Local News

SANDY CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) She risks her life to protect people and property. And she also works hard sharing a life-saving message. We learn more in this weeks Behind the Badge. 

Emma Weatherhead is a Sandy City firefighter. “Every day is something new.”  It’s a job she says she absolutely loves. “I get to help someone every single day.” “Anytime that they call – its honestly probably their worse day and I get the opportunity to help people figure out how to maneuver through that process.”

We caught up with her during a recent fire truck equipment switch. It’s a mundane activity and a far cry from some of the excitement and danger she has experienced during her ten-year career putting out fires. My crew and I had a close call. It was definitely was one of the most intense moments I have had in my career.”

Emma is referring to this fire in February 2010. As she and other Sandy firefighters came up from the basement there was a flash fire.

Everything got hot enough that it flashed while we were in the kitchen – we bailed out a back window. And twenty seconds after we bailed out the window the floor fell through.” 

The moment is something firefighters learn about in training – and know they never want to be part of it when it happens. “It’s that instant moment that everything inside of the house or structure reaches that temperature that it just automatically catches on fire.” “We had seconds to get out of the house.”

In addition, to being a first responder, Emma has now taken on another life-saving job. “We should really be aware that that is the highest age group.” Emma is also a suicide prevention instructor – sharing the QPR or Question, Persuade and Refer techniques. She says she teaches “the community to recognize the signs and symptoms of someone in a mental health crisis.”  She says this is life-saving information and she leads classes and work sessions through Healthy Riverton. She says there is no way to know how many people she has helped through her classes, but she knows at least one has told her she made a difference. The person told her “I came to your training and the stuff I learned helped me recognize that my brother was in crisis and I got him the help that he needed.”  
Emma says it’s all worth it – even if it’s just one. “If everyone who gets the training has the goal of saving just one person – then it will help immensely.” 

Emma is also a paramedic. She says she added that skill and certification because “it offers me the ability to give a higher level of care to the people that I treat.” She adds, “I couldn’t make the final say on what I thought could help this person and now I have the ability to teach others and I have that final say.”

To learn more about QPR suicidal prevention go to: https://qprinstitute.com/
And to nominate a first responder for a future story go to: https://www.abc4.com/badge

The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

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Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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