In our mission of taking care of our brothers and sisters in our emergency services family, we often provide information and training to our firefighters, EMS personnel, and 911 telecommunicators to help them understand the need for behavioral health care and all that we offer.

During that training, we use analogies often to illustrate our point. One is our emphasis on “file folders” to explain how we, as first responders, avoid difficult experiences by pushing bad thoughts into the back of our minds instead of asking for help to process them. Helping folks understand that theory is paramount to helping them reach out for help. We have learned that it is equally important to teach our emergency services personnel to have a “good file folder” where we capture those things that make us feel better or simply cause our hearts to smile. Our theory is further advanced by asking others to reach into that good folder when times are difficult, to think about happy events such as the birth of our children or grandchildren, when we fell in love for the first time (or the second time), got our first car, graduated from school, or made our way into the amazing world of emergency services. Those good times, some ever so small, are what sustains us during bad times and can give us hope for a better day ahead.

This week, I was fortunate to provide training to our friends of the St. Andrews Fire Department. We talked about those file folders and suddenly, I was taken back to a time just a few years into my career starting at St. Andrews. A special time and place where I developed my love of the Fire Service before I became an Assistant Chief at North Charleston District. I was enjoying a cup of coffee and catching up with the crew before starting our training and I realized that I sat in the very same place at the kitchen table some forty-seven years ago. I shared it with all who were present, and we decided to recreate the moment. Here is the original newspaper clipping showing me and Jimmy Drolet in 1972, shortly after moving into the new headquarters station, and a photograph taken today of Capt. Chris Savage and myself, almost 47 years apart.

Think about it for yourself and enjoy your “good file folder” all that you can. If nothing else, it will take the edge off a bad day. And, thank you to my St. Andrews friends for allowing me to hang out with you.It is always a pleasure.

Stay safe out there….

Gerald