The Health and Social Service Recovery Support Function (HSS RSF) at the Hurricane Harvey Joint Field Office is sponsoring an International Association for Fire Fighters (IAFF) Peer Support Training for volunteer fire departments impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  The stresses faced by first responders throughout the course of their careers – multiple casualty events, violence, injury to community members and the inherent dangers of completing job duties – can have a cumulative effect on mental health and well-being. Feedback from the Texas Health and Human Service Commission (HHSC) Disaster Behavioral Health office indicates that first responders who deployed in support of Hurricane Harvey search and rescue operations are experiencing higher than usual levels of stress, anxiety, and negative feelings. Peer support programs have been demonstrated to be an effective modality for providing support to occupational groups, including first responders.


IAFF Peer Support Training Description

Members participate in a two-day interactive course taught by experienced peers from the fire service and behavioral health clinicians. The curriculum focuses on active listening skills, suicide awareness and prevention, crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and relationships with local behavioral health providers. Participants also learn how to build an effective peer program. Instructors use small group learning methods and skill-building exercises to encourage student participation and mastery of the material. Prior to attending the course, participants fist complete an online IAFF Behavioral Health Awareness Course. The two-hour course is self-paced and tailored for the fire service.

Who should attend? Volunteer Fire Fighters and EMS who have ever:

  • Worried about a brother or sister
  • Seen signs of substance abuse, family problems, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety or major stress
  • Wanted to reach out and offer support
  • Felt uncertain about what to say or how to reach out

    The peer-led training will teach participants to:

  • Develop a Peer Team for their department
  • Approach a brother or sister of concern
  • Establish trust and confidentiality
  • Determine whether a crisis is developing
  • Refer the person to available resources

Training Class to be held 8am to 4pm on March 28 & 29th

Rockport VFD

212 N Gagon Rockport TX 78382


For more information:


Katherine Sanches (CTR)

Texas/FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) 

11000 N Interstate 35

Austin, TX, 78753