UCF RESTORES, a program to diagnose PTSD and treat active-duty military, first responders and other survivors of trauma, has teamed up with the Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative to expand care to firefighters at more than 350 departments around the state.
“Our organization was founded on the goal of helping people reclaim control of their lives in the aftermath of trauma,” says RESTORES founder and director Deborah Beidel. “As we continue on our mission to be the first place the nation turns to for education and research on PTSD, we realize the need to align with partners that can connect us to those who are affected.”
The partnership will allow RESTORES to apply its research and expertise to treat firefighters and enhance one of the collaborative’s initiatives: the Redline Rescue, a statewide network of trained firefighters to connect peers directly with one another for support. The program is to help those seeking help for anxiety and other symptoms of distress that often accompany exposure to traumatic events.
“With our roster of firefighters and RESTORES’ game-changing approach to treatment – the success of which we’ve seen firsthand – the foundation is laid for us to make a greater difference than ever before.”
Previously, FFSHC’s Redline Rescue volunteers served as the conduit between at-risk firefighters and the help they needed. Expansion of the program “will allow us to take an even more effective approach to providing tangible support, no matter the time of day,” says Dustin Hawkins, FFSHC mental wellness director. “With our roster of firefighters and RESTORES’ game-changing approach to treatment – the success of which we’ve seen firsthand – the foundation is laid for us to make a greater difference than ever before.”
RESTORES, which was established in 2011, combines exposure therapy and group-therapy sessions to treat patients during an intensive, three-week outpatient format. Patients are exposed through virtual reality to triggers that have contributed to their PTSD. Research has shown that the approach is effective, with about 66 percent of patients PTSD-free at the end of treatment,
RESTORES has treated nearly 500 veterans and active-duty personnel, and has expanded to treat first responders from 20 states and survivors of mass shootings, including those at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“Our relationship with the FFSHC serves as an invaluable pipeline to firefighters in Florida and beyond,” says Beidel, “and we are so grateful for the opportunity to serve those that devote their lives to serving others.”