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I could say many things about this cartoon and my personal experiences, but I am going to give this space up for a friend who is following the noble calling of helping firefighters save ourselves, so we may continue to save others. Sarah Gura and I found each other online, and I must say from my perspective, it was like fate stepping in to say "Hey, it's time to get off your butt, someone out there needs help". So, I asked Sarah to tag-team with this cartoon and share her thoughts and expertise. Please, read and share...


This particular cartoon illustrates something familiar to me as a shrink who specializes in treating firefighters.  It is also a very intense image –and another powerful punch from Paul Combs.  The truth tends to hit us hard in the fire service.  In this case, it hits unfairly and tragically.  The hope I have for this cartoon is that it is like a good seed.  A seed somehow attracts all the nutrients it needs from the soil so that it becomes something naturally beautiful.  I hope this artwork captures your attention.  I hope it pulls in your awareness, your empathy, compassion, understanding, and your concern. 

I hope firefighters realize that this is real; and I hope that a firefighter who is going through exactly what this image portrays wakes up and sees that he is not alone.  So many firefighters ask me to tell them how many firefighters I treat in the therapy office.  They want to know for what, and if they’re making progress.  Firefighters want to hear first if this is real before they step forward and admit they are struggling.  Well here is your answer!  How can this image be here if it didn’t convey some sort of truth?  How could it have the effect it will have, as firefighters view it and feel the feelings it forces them to experience if it was not true or relevant?  You are not alone.  You do not have to feel this way, or go through this! 

I imagine a part II cartoon in which the crew of this drowning firefighter come in and cut off that ankle-weight of pride and save this firefighter!  This is called Peer Support –and that is a culture change that is much more needed in the fire service than a bunch of counseling.  While I am happy and honored to provide therapy for firefighters, I’m also looking forward to co-leading (with firefighters) a major culture-change in the fire service that will not tolerate this and that will actually rescue their own!  My hope is that firefighters promote themselves to human status, which is REAL and way above superhero-status which is just fantasy.

Sarah A. Gura, M.A., L.C.P.C.
Gura Clinical Services, LLC
Firefighter Psychological Support



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Comment by Lee Sulecki on July 2, 2013 at 12:04pm

One of your best.

Comment by John K. Murphy on July 2, 2013 at 10:43am
Paul - apologize for asking again - need your email address. Send to

Comment by John K. Murphy on July 2, 2013 at 10:40am
Emailed this to my wife Dr. Beth Murphy PsyD. I am sure she can use this in her FDIC lecture. Thanks again
Comment by John K. Murphy on July 2, 2013 at 10:38am
Excellent illustration. Thank you

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