Fighting the Fire
This is a little less a blog post and more of an announcement. In mid-Autumn of 2022 I was asked to play a role in an upcoming movie entitled "Fighting the Fire". Many of you might remember the film I released several years ago on responder PTSD called "Return to the Station"? This movie is similiar in that addresses the issues of critical stress and responder ptsd.
In the film, Brian Cook has been firefighter for over 10 years, but he is now facing the biggest battle of his life - not the fire in the field, but a battle of the mind, the heart and the soul. Firefighting and personal life issues have taken their toll on Brian yet he is surrounded by "rescuers" who step into his life and minister to his greatest needs.
In the film, I play retired firefighter and Pastor Alan Bratcher.
I am excited about this role as I finally get to represent on film the many people who have helped me throughout the years with my own struggles.
Firefighters have their own family-like “culture” and lifestyle, and they have experiences that often only their peers can relate to. Teams often spend whole 24-hour shifts together for years – even decades – and share holiday meals together when they can’t be with their own families. The life of a firefighter requires a frequent and immediate switch from laid-back life at the station to racing to unimaginable scenes that could involve anything from a light car accident to horrible car crashes, where first responders have to pull people or bodies from crushed or burning cars.
Exposure to tragic scenes – and the associated risks to firefighters’ lives or their colleagues’ – is a routine part of this job. Often, firefighters are re-exposed to these traumatic experiences via stories in the media or through videos and other posts by bystanders on social media.
PTSD is a condition caused by exposure to traumatic experiences such as natural disasters, war, shootings, motor vehicle accidents and assault. It can result from one’s personal exposure to a trauma, or to someone else’s exposure.
More often, people have heard about PTSD in the context of war, with combat-exposed veterans. While combat veterans often return to the normality of the civilian life after deployment, the job of firefighters, police officers and emergency medical services workers involves regular, routine exposure to all types of traumas, for years and decades of their careers.
The PTSD brain is constantly on alert, screening for danger. Symptoms of PTSD include frequent nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding reminders of trauma and being easily startled and angered. Research shows that at least 20% of firefighters and other first responders pass the diagnostic threshold for PTSD at some point in their career.
"Fighting the Fire" captures that reality and shows the effects this stress has on not just responders but their families. The film was written and is being directed by filmmaker Bobby Lacer of Little Chicago Pictures. Filming begins in April of this year and I will keep you all updated.
You can see the cast and crew IMDb at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16230388/