When you are in a crisis situation, the sound of emergency vehicle sirens descending brings a feeling of relief – help is on the way. But who helps the emergency personnel to cope with their daily experiences of assisting people going through traumatic situations? Sirens of Silence is a Western Australian volunteer organisation working to support Emergency Service Personnel and provides external self-help pathways and positive supports to work through difficult times.
They call it the 3 Way Support Process and their aims are to:
- Raise awareness of Anxiety, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Suicide Prevention within the Emergency Services,
- Provide positive ‘ground level’ peer support and simple guidance of pathways to seek further assistance.
- Grant members educational and financial assistance for treatment and support.
Sirens of Silence encompasses staff from all areas of emergency service work from communications staff of triple zero calls, through to frontline Police Ambulance Fire and Emergency service staff and volunteers, and all career staff; including those who are current, retired, injured or terminated.
We interviewed Lyn Sinclair to find out more about Sirens of Silence and the important work they are doing to assist Emergency Service Personnel in our community.
An interview with Lyn Sinclair, founder of Sirens of Silence
What led you to start Sirens of Silence?
A sudden spike in the number of Ambulance Personnel choosing suicide. This highlighted that the “system” that was in place was failing badly and It was clear that there was a need to bring the subject of mental health out from the dark and place it front and centre in the general discussion arena.
Why was it needed generally and for you personally?
The number of suicides. There appeared to be a significant impediment to getting people to speak up and support each other and to ultimately seek help and professional support. The failure of the systems offered by emergency agencies is not capturing all those that need help, so a second-tier system needs to be in place to capture those that choose to not uptake the first tier, or fall through the holes in the present support processes offered by the agencies.
Is there any advice you would like to give to someone reading this who may need help?
Become a member of Sirens of Silence (it’s free), so that we can offer another option or pathway of help. You will feel supported, cared for and we endeavour to make it easier for you.
What are your plans for the future?
To expand the profile of Sirens of Silence and the support processes offered by it, amongst all emergency services personnel. We also want to continue the work (already begun) to highlight to the general public, the need for strong mental health support to first line responders and their families.
What does the general community need to understand about your initiative?
We would like the general community to recognise that emergency services personnel do play a vital role in the community and they, along with their families, need a robust and successful pathway or system, to maintain good mental health, that will support them throughout their challenging careers and beyond.
How can interested people get involved?
Contact Sirens of Silence, via sirensofsilence.org.au or any social media platform.
Sirens of Silence also welcome enquiries from people who want to assist the charity by way of helping out at various fundraising functions and events the Charity holds, or helping the Charity in some professional way. Financial donations are also gratefully received.
By Tasha Broomhall