The IAFF Burn Foundation, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the University of Kentucky College of Social Work partnered with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors to develop a firefighter peer support component of their national Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) program. This national program offers burn injured firefighters and their families one-on-one support from a trained firefighter/family member peer supporter.
“Most people after they are burned stay away from fire or whatever it is that caused their injury and here I was wanting and praying to walk back into doing the very thing that had changed my life… My wife and I had the pleasure through the (pilot) SOAR program to meet other burned firefighters and their spouses… They shared their stories of success and setbacks and how they overcame them… At times it seemed that the other firefighters and their spouses were telling our story because the experiences were so similar… I gained confidence that if these families could survive this, then so could we.”
Information obtained from focus groups with burn injured firefighters and their families was utilized to develop this program. The new content found within these unique SOAR trainings and its materials includes descriptions of the burn-injured firefighter’s experience, their family member’s experiences and the fire service culture. Topics such as “Dealing with the Media” were added, and other areas, including “Recognizing and Managing Compassion Fatigue” were expanded.
We are excited about our continued work on this project. More information about the program will be shared at the 2012 American Burn Association (ABA) Annual Meeting, including at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors booth in the ABA Exhibit Hall.