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One805 helping firefighters receive mental health service in Santa Barbara County

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – One805, a local nonprofit, is helping firefighters receive mental health services by connecting them to 24-hour professional wellness services.

Firefighters are known for dedicating their lives to the fire service, working 24 hour shifts and responding to fires, but their jobs can take a toll on them. 

“What we require as fire chiefs … our personnel to do is … to go into situations that create a lasting impact on their mental health," said chief Mark Hartwig of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Hartwig believes some of what firefighters experience on the job can affect not only their well being but also their families. 

"Let’s just say I mean … there are four or five images that I have in my mind that they … unfortunately fairly regularly play out … that I’ll never get rid of," said Hartwig.

The fire department believes offering health services both medical and mental could not be more important in the fire service today. 

“We’ve never addressed it like we are today. It’s not okay to not be okay. Now it’s … we know that this job will impact you. We know the things you’re seeing and doing every day will have a long term on your mental health," said Hartwing.

But the fire department wasn’t able to sustain funding for mental wellness services on their own.  

That’s when One805, a nonprofit supporting first responders stepped in.

“One805 were approached by our fire chiefs two years ago. We took over the mental awareness program. In turn we went to Direct Relief. And we partnered with them. And we now run the program together through ONE805. And some of our generous donors who understand how mental wellness is so important to our first responders support us too," said CEO and cofounder Kirsten Cavendish of One805.

Hartwig said this service is proving to be invaluable for first responders as well as their families.

“We hear stories about people accessing this line … or their family is … saying … I need a better coping mechanism … maybe alcohol or something else … and that’s what they’re getting … their getting good strong coping strategies and we know that it’s working because they’re accessing the lines … the therapists more and more each and every year," said Hartwig.

Thanks to One805 and Direct Relief, county firefighters now have access to 24-hour professional wellness services.

"If they’re not healthy from the inside out … they’re no good to anybody. We want to support them forever! Mental wellness is not going to go away," said Cavendish.

Article Topic Follows: Be Mindful
Santa Barbara

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.


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