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I could say many things about these cartoons 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,
LLCFirefighter Psychological Support

You may also contact Jada Hudson at:



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Comment by Paul Combs on September 10, 2014 at 8:01am

Very well said, Chief - thank you.

Comment by Bobby Halton on September 9, 2014 at 10:49am


Your artwork as always is poignant and deeply moving. I strongly encourage every firefighter today to do a little homework for tomorrow. This is an extremely tough week and tough weeks make tough firefighters stronger not weaker. Asking for help and asking someone if they need help are both signs of courage not weakness. Please go to Jeff Dill's site "Firefighters Behavioral Health Alliance". Here's a link to Jeff site 

If you know someone who needs help now with mental health issues or substance abuse which are often related, please reach out to Chicago Battalion Chief Dan Gryse at the  firefighters Rosecrance Floridan Program, reach out to Dan and he will get you moving in the right direction towards help and treatment. here is a link to the Florian program

Another firefighter championing mental health and wellness is  Mark Lamplugh a fourth generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. He is now a national treatment consultant with American Addiction Centers specializing in First Responder Services. Mark has placed and referred hundreds of firefighters nationwide. He can be reached for comment at Mark wrote a great piece for Fire Engineering on how to help our fellow firefighters who are struggling

Learn more about how you can do something to help someone who struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts. Perhaps it's nothing more than letting them know that there are other firefighters out there battling the same demons. Maybe it's not a firefighter perhaps it's a firefighters spouse, parents or child let them know that there is help out there. Its our problem, mine and yours. Here are my thoughts

Please help someone you love, be the brother or sister they need and you are. Please, love Bobby 

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