Chad is a Career and Volunteer firefighter from Central NJ. He called and spoke about his experiences in the fire service and with mental health.


Stack: . Today. We're going to sit down with Chad and he's from New Jersey. He started as a volunteer as a junior at 14 in his hometown.

He joined at 18 as a volunteer. And then he was also a cop from 1999 to 2003. In 2009, he became a career firefighter. And so I will let him tell a little bit more about himself, maybe his family and some of professional background. And then we'll get into a story. How are you doing, Chad? 

Chad: How are you?

Sorry about that. That's all right. So yeah, I grew up in New Jersey, same town lived here forever. My grandfather and a couple of my uncles were in the fire service of the volunteers. Nobody was really paid. I've been going to calls with them forever. Prior to even being old enough to join as a junior joined a 14 as a junior, went to calls than 18, joined as a full member and been doing that ever since.

Life led me to a law enforcement career. I was a cop in the town that I grew up in from 1999 until 2003. When that ended, I wandered around a little bit on different jobs mainly riding ambulance and different things like that. In 2009, I became a career firefighter where I've been ever since.

And now I'm a career Lieutenant. And still doing the volunteer fire chief since 2004.

Stack: That's awesome. Let me ask you New Jersey. What part of New Jersey is it? Central New Jersey. Is it New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. 

Chad: We call it south Jersey, but I think it's more towards central. But we're basically 30 minutes from everything Philly to the shore Atlantic city. That's how we say it.

We're 30 minutes from everything. 

Stack: So I'll

also assume that you're pretty close to some major highways and some some 

Chad: thoroughfares. Yeah. At work we cover the New Jersey turnpike or at exit five and interstate 2 95 or exit 45. 

Stack: Okay. All right. What and your family background is you want to talk about that at all?

Chad: My mom and dad didn't have any thing in the fire service, in any of the emergency services just my grandfather and a few uncles that's really it on that. 

Awesome. So you joined in 2009 as a career firefighter, correct. And you want to talk about some of your early career.

Chad: So after the cop incident, it took a little bit to readjust and find my way. And then finally in 2019 it was like, or 2009, it was like, all i, I gotta get my shit together, figure out what I'm doing the rest of my life. So I went that route. My my old police Lieutenant when I was a police officer, he helped me get squared away in that and earn my way in.

And I made a name for myself. And got hired and moved to transfer departments and I've promoted their sense.. 

One of the things that you mentioned to me when we first spoke, is that the question I think all of us get when we're on the job and somebody asked you, what's the worst thing you've ever seen.

Chad: Yeah. For most of my life, this has been pretty lighthearted and not a lot had bothered me or so I thought, and people would at times ask, I wouldn't know how to answer it, cause I, I don't really talk a lot about the job per se to normal people. And they would ask and really my answer I don't know, man, like I pretty much, I've seen it all, I don't know what I haven't seen.

And then, until this call that started all this turns out I hadn't, I really hadn't seen anything, after this incident. 

Stack: you mentioned it is this call it, that started everything. Why don't you give us, the year what you were doing at the time and what happened?

Chad: Okay. Like I said I've been going to calls forever hellacious wrecks. seen, all kinds of injuries and deaths from accidents and calls and things of that nature. Growing up in the town that I work, I see a ton of people that I've known my whole life, pass away.

People burn up in fires. Like there, there really wasn't nothing. I thought I hadn't seen tons of shootings and stabbings and stuff. And then in 2015 I was home and me and my girlfriend at the time were bickering or arguing. And a call goes out for it was a helicopter landing for a burn victim.

Really wasn't probably the best time to, to leave home. The duty crew was in house, nothing they can't handle. So I really didn't think much, but something kept bothering me. So I said, man, let me turn on the app on my phone and see what's going on. 

So I turned the radio or the app and on the phone and I heard one of my buddies. Who's a cop come over to police radio and just screaming. And he's a pretty laid back guy. Doesn't get excited about much not much really ever bothered them or anything. So when I heard that I, I knew something, something was not okay.

So I decided to go, don't really remember much on the way to the call, but I get to the call and there's, it's a chaotic scene and I look, and there's a, an, a infant newborn baby. In the street wrapped in towels. And it had been set on fire. I looked down at the baby and I could tell that , it was breathing.

I picked it up, I ran it over to the sergeants police car and we put it in the back seat and, started, trying to work on it or see what we could do. It's still had the umbilical cord attached. I could see bubbles coming out the baby's nose. It was breathing and in the haste we still had missed some towels that were on fire.

We threw them out of the. The SUV. And my guys got there with the engine, we have, EMS supplies and pediatric supplies. So they brought that over. I needed an OB kit, because the umbilical cord hadn't been clamped off and there was, there was just so much that needed to be done.

And, we're limited, we're not an ambulance or anything or a paramedic. The ambulance finally gets there. We moved the baby over to the ambulance, the medics get there, everybody's trying to do something on this little baby. And eventually we transfer the baby to the helicopter and it goes to the burn center.

Go back to the scene. We, we know that this is going to be a big deal on a bad call. The police had the mother in custody neighbors that live on this isolated back road had seen a vehicle stop. It was weird. They were looking out the window and seen a fire. So they went out.

To see what was going on. And she said she was lighting the bag of dog shit on fire. So they looked and it was a baby and it's all on the 9 1, 1 call. It's pretty crazy. So they had done what they could, the husbands subdued the mother, and then the police took custody of when they got there.

So knowing this whole thing is going to be a crimescene we're all there. It was pretty cold out. My buddy that I heard yelling on the radio, his car is where they put the mother initially. So that had some blood in it and stuff. So that was part of the crime scene. The sergeant's SUV was where we worked on the baby.

So that's part of the crime scene. So we were all sitting in my chiefs buggy. Just because now we're getting late, we're waiting for the prosecutor's office, get their crime scene and it's going to be a few hours and it was cold. It was too cold to stand outside. So we're sitting there for a couple of hours and everybody's quiet.

And my buddy says, why don't you just throw the fucking thing in a dumpster? And it was at that time that I knew that he probably wasn't okay. I felt like that was a statement that, she throw it in a dumpster and none of us would have had to see it or deal with it, the, or anything like that.

And, it would have been taken wherever and it wouldn't have been our problem. My buddy, the Sergeant says, you think we should do a critical incident stressdebrief yeah, we probably should. So we got that lined up, did that the next night. But when I got home and for the next several days I just noticed I was pretty sad crying just at nothing, it would just hit me and things were starting to bother me at the time I was having problems at home I had to, I was moving out. So I had trouble for, I don't know I guess a couple months, things were bothering me and just something wasn't right.

Prior to me moving out, I had considered suicide. It was real. I had a plan. The only thing that I couldn't, I guess the only thing to stop me was I couldn't figure out a place to go. To do it where someone I knew wouldn't have to deal with it and that it would work per se. I've been involved in this for so long and been in different places.

I know so many people, so I really didn't want someone I know that have to deal with it. So that's really what stopped me from doing it. I ended up talking to my buddy, the Sergeant he had him and my, the other guy involved, both of them were out of work. They've since retired from that call off the job.

So I, I called my buddy and I said, yeah, I'm having some problems because yeah, you should probably talk to this doctor. We've been seeing this doctor ever since. She's great. She's helped us out with a lot of things and, she's just awesome. Why don't you check her in.

So I said, oh, okay. I was kinda lost. So I did went and seen her. She helped me with something. She explained some things made sense of some things and come to find out to calls over the years up until this call that. Thought weren't bothering me or anybody else they really were.

And the way I could explain it at the time was my glass was just full. That's how my body felt. I was overflowing. And I guess over the years the calls and such were ice cubes in the cup. And then, this was just a trigger that triggered whatever I was going through.

She had wanted me to retire. I really wasn't ready to not go to any more fires ever again. I could stand not seeing burned babies and things like that, but I really wasn't ready to not, go to another fire ever again. The other side of this was I was not at work. I was the volunteer fire chief.

So if I did retire, it would be at 40. And, no medical benefits or anything like that. Not at if I was at work or like my buddies, the police officers, they retired at 66 and two thirds, which is not taxable and with benefits. So had I been at work that may have been an option, but also financially at the time that was not an option.

So I had to carry on I was trying to think what else, where that loss, 

That's profound because you have to do the job, but the job is slowly killing you, but you feel like you're trapped because financially you can't step away from the job. 

Chad: Correct. And so that's, so when I, early on, when I went and seen this doctor, She had said to me, you, you really need to think about something else you need to retire.

And, she said this job's going to kill you. And one way or another it's going to kill me. And that's how I found you. I had seen I believe it was a t-shirt and your t-shirt says this, , and, for some reason it just resonated. So that's how I began following you on social media and, purchase a shirt or a sticker because Yeah, I, I that's me.

I lived that. 

Stack: I definitely believe that saying that this job or this life is going to be the death of me. 

Chad: Yeah. So many different ways. So it might not even be just PTSD or whatever it could be physically, or, whatever the case may be.

Stack: Right 

between PTSD, whatever physical ailments or the actual job killing you physically, or carcinogens from fires, from gear or whatever. 

Chad: Exactly. And that's a joke. I always tell I, I get to go to a lot of fires. I've had my chiefs buggies since 2004. We have SUV's to gear, stays in with us.

I know the big things pickups now. And when the cancer discussion comes up, it's man, if I don't have cancer, and listen, I don't want cancer and it's a terrible thing, I've seen enough people die from it. If I don't have it, or it doesn't exist in my mind because I've had dirty gear in my car for years, we, the washing the gear things new, I Christ I'd already been chief for over 10 years

gear washers came out and things like that. And I'm riding around with the shit in my car. And a month later, somebody saying, did you just go to a fire? No, I'm going to fire in a couple of weeks. Oh, your car smells like fire. Yeah, we didn't clean shit back then. And another thing, w when I, early on, when I went to see my, this doctor, she had said to me but I really didn't understand what was all going on.

She had said the human body can only see so many dead babies. And that was basically her analogy. If I've seen all kinds of shit, she, and all kinds of dead babies. And finally, this is just the straw that broke the camel's back, or the trigger, I guess is what word they use them in the PTSD world.

Stack: I 

would have to agree with her. I've seen a few dead babies myself. I don't, I definitely don't want to see anymore. I expect to see another one or two, but I don't want to see any more. And you're right. Where do you put them when you see them? I'm not sure. 

Chad: Yeah, I don't know. 

Stack: So in, in 2019, I know you took some steps with your department for EAP program, correct?

Chad: Yeah. So at the time I chiefs real good the town we get a lot of support out of our town. And at the time we had an administrator for the town that wanted to get our EAP straightened out. So she was big on that and got that started. And then it was my background. I offered some suggestions and they, I guess leaned upon me for some of that.

And we went and spoke to my doctor and she was on board with helping us in different ways. So what we do at work is we send each employee full-time employee because we have per diems and stuff. But the full-time employees, we send to the psychiatrist once a year, while they're working for.

an hour we can't make them help or make them talk to her or anything like that. But being that they're on the clock, we can make them go. I think our department's done a good job that, we're not going to hold anything against you or anything like that. But she can't tell us. She's not going to risk her career or her business or her name.

The guys don't have nothing to worry about going there there we're never going to find out. And she has said of all the departments that she deals with this, it's very rare that someone comes in there and doesn't speak. And then. Whether that's all they needed or they come back and work on some things, whatever that may be.

It's been, there's really been no negatives. So we do that at work. We do a good job of taking care of the employees. If somebody has something go on, we're very proactive with it, whether it's at home or at work we probably go at times a little too much for it.

We're probably a little too overbearing mother, a mother hen or mother goose, but we take care of our people in that regard. And fortunately, because at home. We don't get that support from the town. As the volunteer fire chief or the town just doesn't support that it's a different world.

When the baby incident happened the police chief called me and had said, Hey I want to talk to you about that call. So I was like, oh, okay. I figure maybe he's checking up or whatever the case. And he goes, Hey, you think them guys are faking

We've recently had a call and I called the police chief. I'm like what a fucking asshole like really man and that's the thought it's getting better. new police chief that I'm friends with. And I said, Hey man, I think, some of the guys are probably bothered by this call. There definitely something that's bothered them.

I know these guys and they were bothered. And so they took steps. To look at that and take care of the guys, which was huge for me when I seen that, because that's not something that the department always done 

Stack: no, that, that is massive. It's sad to hear that somebody still has that question, do you think these guys are faking it?

Chad: Yeah. And that's not to say that people don't like the Facebook mourners. And that's something I talked to my doctor with if you really have a problem you're not out there looking for a public coddling or whatever, you might lean on people.

And this was my first time talking about a very few people know I guess guys at work, know there's things. But to not what external or whatever the case may be. 

Stack: So outside of your therapist, you haven't even really discussed it with 

Chad: anybody. Very few people, less than a handful. Okay. 

Stack: So 2019 proponent of EAP, you set it up, you guys get this great program going.

You also were telling me a story. The one time you drive it to the firehouse with the blueberries. 

Chad: Yeah. It's summer, it's hot. A buddy of mine owns a blueberry farm and he gives me blueberries every year. He gave me two cases, only one case could fit in my refrigerator. So I left the other ones at the firehouse.

My daughter and grandkid are here and we were out blueberries. It's hot out. So I run to the firehouse, get them. I'll be right back as I'm going. I have to pass. What I would consider our ghetto neighborhood on the way as I'm passing it, a shooting call goes out. Now this is not 

nothing unlikely. We have shootings and stabbings in there all the time. I worked there as a police officer nothing out of the ordinary kind of, happens. But I was monitoring the police radio on, when I was originally driving to the firehouse and I could hear the guys were busy.

I really couldn't put together what was going on, but I could tell there was a. So they were only sending one car there was only one car available to go to the shooting. They called the fire company in the ambulance and everything for the shooting. But he was the only police officer going.

So I said I'm not going to let him go in there alone. So I pulled into in the neighborhood with them. There's two ends to the neighborhood. One end. Not a lot happens at all. The other end is where everything happens. We recalled to the end where nothing happens. So that was weird. So we go in there and it's like eerily nothing going on.

Usually people about things going on but there was almost no one out and it was weird. We saw some people we stopped. Hey, do you guys hear any gunshots? You hear anything? See anything? No. And in this neighborhood nobody's going to lie to you. They're either. Going to not talk to you and and just tell you to fuck off and ignore you.

Or if they talk to you they're going to tell you the truth, right? There's no in-between per se. And not that they're not going to lie to you about what, maybe something they're involved in, but if you ask them if there was a shooting and they say no, then there probably wasn't typically they would walk away and just ignore you.

So they said, now, man, we've been out here. We haven't heard it. So I drive around the block and I see a girl that I recognize. So I rolled the window down. I say, have you seen any sugar here or anything? She goes, yeah, whatever happened down the street when she pointed in a direction. So I got out to talk to her and the police officer that responded alone, another friend of mine he was pulling up and as we look up the street, there's definitely a dispute going on. I have a police radio and I put out, Hey, there's a dispute up the street, further up the block. So we roll up there and.

Typically when we roll up one big incidents out there, street fights, like people start dispersing, you'll have your couple people that'll stay and holler and give you a problem or whatever. But for the most part, people disperse or don't give you a hard time when we pulled up, no one left. This is different.

Now. I've been, I've been responding to calls there before I was cop while I was copped and ever since then after I was cop, so this was like hundreds of times I've done this, and now this one's like kind of these people aren't leaving. This is like really heated. And I see a guy, people are trying to hold them back and he has.

I guess you would call it a scythe or I don't want to say a sickle. I don't even know how to explain it, but it's like a manual hand thing for for weed whacking grass. And he starts to run across the street and I see a girl standing there and I'm like, holy shit, like instantly within seconds, like all this shits going through my head.

And I'm like, man, if he hits her with that, he's going to filet. I don't even know if I have enough stuff on my truck just to stop this chick from bleeding. If he hits her with this and it's like an instantaneous thought, that's probably doesn't even take a second. And as he's running across, I hear gunfire now it was getting dark.

But I really couldn't, I didn't see muzzle flash. I couldn't tell where it was coming from. And then I realized it's my buddy, the police officer, that's shooting this guy. And while this guy was running right before the gunshots started. My, my first thought was the tackle. But having that experience, you really don't go hands on when there's a crowd, because you'll be at the bottom of that pile and that's it.

So you do what you can but you have to take more of a defensive stance than an offensive stance until help gets there. So I hear the gunfire and I'm like holy shit. And again, these instant thoughts, I'm like, holy shit. Listen we've fought. We fight a lot. We've chased a lot as cops here.

But we've never had to shoot anyone and instantly in my head and the way the world is today was my buddy's fucked. This guy was gonna, whoever he was hitting with this thing he was going to seriously hurt them. But we know the world we live in now and even if he's justified or whatever the case may be, it's going to be a long row to hoe.

So these are all things in my head right away. So I put it out over the police radio, that shots were fired. He loses his radio. In this first couple of minutes of this thing, the guy falls to the ground. He handcuffs him. Now the crowd instantly wants to harm us. So we keep them at bay.

I'm trying to get help on the radio. I go over to get my EMT bag and the crowd's harassing me, giving me a hard time. So we start trying to work on him and we get the ambulance in there. I'm like, we just gotta get this guy outta here. They end up majority of the county police departments sent members cause it just, the whole neighborhood got so out of hand.

The next day there was credible threats against me and the officers. At the time my daughter and grandson were living with me. I had to move them out for a week. It was a pretty, pretty shitty situation. We don't go there to shoot people. 

But now I'm looking at it as my buddy who's 100% right now, his life's altered. My life's altered. I got to move my family out because I'm being threatened. So that, that was probably the second call while, I remember a hundreds of calls and then there's hundreds of calls. I've heard.

These are probably the two that gave me the most trouble, I guess I would say. 

Stack: So what, personally, what kind of trouble other than obviously the family moving the family out and having some threats, but what kind of trouble did it ramp up inside of you then? 

Chad: So the next day I'm friends with the police chief.

We actually went to the police academy together and he calls me. Two of his friends are involved, in, in something that we've never been involved with before. So we have a discussion and an another police chief that we actually taught in the police academy. He had been in a shooting and I said why don't you give him a call?

And maybe he can give us some guidance. So he came right over. We met with him and he tells me, he goes, Hey, man, you're going to have to take a couple of weeks off. Like your body's going to start reacting the adrenaline dump. You're just going to have things that you've never felt before and you're going to have to take a break.

So I said, okay. And I really didn't give much thought to it. I'm still kinda overwhelmed on the whole thing. So yeah. The adrenaline dump was insane. And then what came was anxiety? I really never knew what anxiety was or what it meant. But I couldn't relax at home.

I was always, even going into the store, like I live right down the road. So walking out to my car, go into the store, going and get food. Like I got to keep an eye. Now I'm an attentive person. I'm aware of, I was a cop for a year. So that doesn't leave you, but it was heightened.

It was even more so The threat was real. Now you know what I'm saying? Like they, the police department credible threats that, that something was going to occur. So that lasted for months and it was only at certain times when friends would stop by that anxiety would go away that I could relax and just not feel that pressure.

Everybody in the far for emergency service community, they know one big things happened. So this goes out, people are texting and talking. So I, I call my boss, let him know what's going on and okay. No problem. So I talked to him they sent us the see the same doctor that I'd already been seeing.

So they sent us. talk to her just as a matter of, we're in an officer involved shooting and basically just what you do. So I talked to her and things, I was thinking a little different no thoughts of suicide or anything, but definitely the anxiety was tough. So my boss at the time we had a different administrator now he was a retired police officer and they said, you know what?

Take your time. We're going to put you on administrative leave. For 30 days and, just take it easy. Now this call happened at my volunteer department, again, not at my career department, but my career department said, take your time. We're gonna, we're gonna take care of you. So 30 days goes by and I guess I'm, that's, I'm going back to work.

So I text the chief and I say, Hey, am I coming in tomorrow? What's going on? And he says no, we're going to send you for a fit for duty. 

Stack: So fit for duty 

exam. You mean? Yeah. Okay. What does that normally consist of? 

Chad: Okay. I never had one. We never really set anybody for one at the firehouse.

Now I worked at three different police departments, a couple of. Career fire departments. So I've had psychological exams, been through all that nonsense. Never an issue. So they sent me for fit for duty and it was actually at a place that I had worked for a firefighter psychiatric exam for an entry level for hiring.

So basically it was the goofy tests that they give you. To, get hired as a cop or fireman. And I'm sitting there like what I don't know what's going on here. But it's I got to do it. So it is what it is. It was funny. There was a lot of new guys they're trying to get jobs, so they're all in suits and shit.

And I go in there in a t-shirt and I'm just like, what, I had to drive like an hour or two away to this thing and it's just like a mess. So I'm there all day. I do all their little tests and then I finally talked to the doctor and he asked me a bunch of questions and he really said some like inappropriate things.

Listen, I'm an inappropriate person. Nothing's too soon, I can make all the sexual innuendos and comments, it's just the way I am, but there's also a time you don't. Right? So like this guy is saying things, I don't think it is. He just trying to like, see what I say. So it was very strange.

Some of the things that he had said, and I'm like, this is insane. We'd talked for a bit and one thing he said that really hit me. And I guess it made sense because nothing, he said made sense in my mind. But what he said was, what else was going on? I know, it was kinda like what do you mean?

He goes anytime I've ever had anybody in. There's always something else going on at home. It's not just this incident. So I thought for a minute and back to the baby me and my girlfriend were having trouble. We were breaking up. I was moving at the time, me and my daughter or not getting along so great.

So I was like, whoa. So when the shooting happened, my mom had just died. So I was like, cool. That, that resonated with me. And I was like, man, this guy is crazy as this guy is he may be onto something. So I get done talking to him and he goes, okay I'll let you know. So I leave. And a few minutes later, my, my doctor calls me and she says, how'd it go?

And I said, this guy's fucking crazy. And she goes, yeah, I've met him before. He's inappropriate, but that's just how he is. And I says, I don't even understand what happened here. And basically she says they, your work really can't do what they did. The call didn't happen at work. It didn't. Yes. They tried to help you.

And I don't think they had any. Ill intentions. But you really have some lawsuits here. It's just a matter of whether you want to, if that's the route you want to go and I'm not that type of person, but they were using my history and other things outside of the job against me. Okay. Not by intent.

But that's ended up what happened. So she says, okay what do you want to do there? This guy's calling me and he's putting it on me. So I went and did this whole frigging thing and all it was they called my doctor and asked her opinion. I said, yeah, I w I'm ready to go back. I can't retire, like same deal.

I'm at the 40% no benefits. Yeah. She goes, okay I'll tell him. So she hangs up five minutes later. My boss calls me, says, you pass, you're good to go and come back. So I just did this whole fucking thing. Really nothing. It was all a bunch of bullshit, but what did come, what I did learn out of it is there's something else usually going on in, in your life that maybe helps trigger these calls.

Stack: Just going to go back to the, to what you said before about the cup being full and nowhere to put it. And so you add something to it. It's just going to run over and is it has to go somewhere, 

Chad: correct? So that was, so then I go back to work and, had a a bad taste in my mouth for being sent for a fit for duty.

Because I look at it like this, what if I failed right now? Now I'm forced into retirement. What am I going to do? But then at the same time, what if I passed and I wanted to retire. So either way, this thing could have while their intent was only to make sure I was okay and do right by me, set that could have went really wrong either way.

And we see that now. 

Stack: The intent was definitely there to help but it was a piss-poor planning of an attempt, 

Chad: Correct. There are still times, every day is a struggle. One of the guys I used to work with used to say that as a joke and it really is for whatever reason my sleep has been terrible since the baby.

I don't know that I slept an entire nights since. So I've been working on that tried C-PAP machines cause I do have sleep apnea and that didn't work at all. And I just more recently did a inspire sleep apnea. It's basically an implant that they put in to help with sleep apnea. There's a lot of adjusting and figure it out with it.

I'm only a few months in it 

Stack: Explained that one to me a little bit, cause I'm not familiar with it at all. And I'm sure listeners aren't familiar with it 

Chad: at all. So a lot of guys at work have sleep apnea. We get the complaints of the snoring. Some guys bring their CPAP to work. It just really didn't work for me.

I, listen, I wear I've worn a Scott mask since I was 14 years old, the mask thing it was such a disaster. It was, it just didn't work. So I stopped using it. And then my sleep was terrible. My health is terrible, so I see this Inspire implant device. And I start looking at it and basically it's an implant.

They make us an incision on your neck and an incision on your chest. And the thing on your neck, it actually pushes your tongue forward. While you're sleeping To I guess combat the sleep apnea. Okay. Now there's tests you have to do to see what's causing your sleep apnea, whether it's your tongue or this or that.

Fortunately, it was my tongue. So it comes with a remote, you turn it on when you go to bed and there's all kinds of settings and different things. So I seem to be doing okay or feeling a little better. And then last month I was really struggling. I was really having a lot of issues. And I was like, man, I don't know what's going on.

I, I started calling my doctor again. Something is not right. I don't know what's going on, but something's going on. So I go back for my checkup with the, with the inspired implant? And the guy's man, this thing's like a, your results. You're hitting pause more. You're turning it off more.

It looks like you're not sleeping more. And I'm like, yeah I don't know what's going on. He goes, I think the settings are too strong. He goes, this is all part of it. Like it's, let's see. I didn't know that he goes, this is all part of it. This is perfect information because, so we're going to put the settings back.

So the couple it's been a few weeks now and I do. Better. I'm not cured with my sleep or my PTSD, but whatever was going on last month that was really weighing on me and causing me issues. That's went away. So I would say a lot of this is, has to do with sleep and health and eating and exercising.

I really do believe that. 

Stack: What are the things you're still seeing a therapist or no, 

Chad: occasionally. I had gotten to a point where I thought I was doing okay. So I let up and I would go see her every once in a while just to make sure I was on track. But then more recently I had a breakup and some things with it bothered me not so much to break up, but just the things surrounding it.

And so I've been seeing her a little bit and. After last month feeling a little different. She says why don't we try some other treatments? I just started this EDMR. It's weird. That's the only way I can explain it. And they explained it to me. What do you mean weird. Oh, that's just what they say.

That's how they said there's no explanation. It's just weird, but it works. Okay. 

Stack: I'm going to have to research. Cause I don't know anything about it. Yes. 

Chad: I went last week for the first time. And the lady basically does a thing with her finger, sorta like a horizontal gaze and nystagmus HGN and get your eyes to move.

And what she does is have you think about the incident and it's supposed to help you put it away? Be able to deal with it per se, to put it, not forget, but put it somewhere that you can learn to deal with it and let it live with it and let it be there. 

Stack: Interesting. I'm going to have 

to research and teach myself a little bit about it because I'm not familiar with it at 

Chad: all.

Yeah. It's something she brought up. I trust her. Although I don't always listen to her we joke cause I'll text her once in a while and I says, I listened to you and she goes, no, you don't. And I do to an extent, but I don't either because she's telling her to retire and I will, 

Stack: I was going to say that's 

the main thing she's talking about is the retirement I'm sure.

Chad: So she's right. The other things that I can do. I do the changes that I can make, I do make but there's just things I'm not ready to give up or stop doing. So yeah we're starting with that. And I was supposed to go yesterday morning and sure enough, I got stuck on a fire, which good and bad, so waiting to make that appointment back, we'll see how that goes. 

One thing that you said when we first spoke and it's been a couple of weeks, but I remember it because it stuck with me. It, it lodged in my brain because I thought it was impactful. Your comment was about retiring and your comment was, I don't want to do it because everything has left me, but the fire department.


Chad: With this This new doctor would the EDMR. She says, we got to try and find an underlying, I guess what's underlying we're not going to go back to my childhood, but we're going to go through things in life that may associate or things of that nature. Even when my doctor talked about retiring and she talked about a commonality the fire service is the only thing.

That's whether it be a death in the family, someone close to me, passing away breaking up with a girlfriend. Me and my daughter at the, the one time when we were having some issues and sh struggling. I always had the fire service when I stopped being a police officer, I had the fire service.

So it's really been my only constant I guess you would say, and that's what I do. I don't really know or do anything else so yeah whatever that means. And we're diving into that now with this new doctor, what that 

Stack: means, I think that's profound because. You hear it quite often, people know that they're ready to leave the fire service.

They know they're ready to leave the job, but they can't, they don't want to because of what you just said it's the constant in your life. 

Chad: Now I also work part time for the New Jersey forest fire service. And we battled the wild land fires and I've done. Since I was able to at 18 and that's something I can do that is like a getaway.

I'm not I guess I'm a midline boss where with my position, if you looked at it on a, on an ICS chart but I'm not the boss. I have bosses, they have bosses. I'm a doer. I can go out there and see fire and do things and enjoy, everything and the guy, it's just a different group of guys.

We're a tight knit organization. And it's just a different thing. And I was part when I went and talked to pensions at one point about retirements I asked if I would have to stop doing that because at the time it was like, if I can keep the. Then I'll seriously consider it, but to give up everything, I'm just not ready to knock, go to another fire ever again.

And they says you would have to go to a review board. That to me, that's no great. I've worked too hard through this to give that up and I'm not ready to, and it doesn't bring. Causes me, my, my issues in the past, although it, we just had a call that it may happen. It didn't, but it was there.

We found a body in a forest fire and just not something normally that we find it didn't no, it really didn't affect me. I was, I was okay with it, but it's funny. It's yeah, we don't, we just look at burn up trees, but no, So that's something I do to get away and, it's fun and adrenaline and work and good group of guys.

But they couldn't guarantee I wouldn't have to give that up as well. I'm ready to retire from work. Like I'm just over waking up , punching a clock and the new people, like I earned my way into the fire service. I fought earned and learned and different things. And the guys now don't want to do that.

They want everything handed to them and things of that nature. And that's just not how I was brought up. It's still not the way things are in the forest fire service. Like you, you have to earn your place. And I do what I have to do, but it's just I'm ready to go. If I could go today.

I would. 

Stack: So to those young guys, Some of them haven't earned their spot or they've been, I don't know. I don't wanna say granted a spot, but it's still a matter of leaving the fire service, as cliche as it sounds better than it was when you started it. Yeah. So what's give me one piece of advice you would give these young guys.

Chad: That's a tough one. You gotta be into the job, right? When, if you go to McDonald's and they get your order, People are infuriated, I don't want to do that job. And they're getting paid crap and it's a crappy job and you get all crazy about them getting your hamburger wrong, but you're okay with fucking up at a call or not being the best that you can be or the best, everybody's got different strengths and weaknesses, we're the lifeline for everyone, right? Our own people, our own families the people we're here for. You gotta be into this job whether that's good or bad. If that's something you want to choose we just had interviews for a full-time position.

Not that long ago when I was. I sit on the board and my question was who's your favorite fire service instructor? Both locally and or nationally. No one had one. 

Stack: And these were guys who have already been exposed to the fire service, 

Chad: there, there are pretty diem members, our employees that we're hiring for a full-time position as a fireman, they want to be a fireman.

Been in this job since I was 14 years old, I've been going to classes ever since I teach, I go to more fires than most people. I still go to class. I still have favorite instructors and these people coming into the job don't have a favorite fire service instructor. Okay. 

Stack: I'm hearing is boil it down to be invested in.

To wrap this up, I got a couple of questions for you.

We'll go away from the story will go away from what you're doing to move past the stories because you are working on it and it's fantastic to hear that you're working on it. I want to know something about you w what you carry, what's your everyday carry. What's your favorite thing to just have on your person, either at work or not at work?

Chad: I guess my daughter and grandkids are. I, if that's, what if I'm answering your question? In, 

Stack: in what sense do you mean that? 

Chad: So like when I want to be chilled out and relax me home and my dog is what brings me, peace or, a little relaxation. And then I have two grandkids now.

And my daughter lives close now. So I'm there most, couple of times a week and get to hang out with the kids. And, we do things together. I was friends with her husband prior to them getting together. He's a cop at work. And we do things together. We went out and bought side-by-sides, I always wanted one, but never had the time or anybody ride with or where to ride it.

But then we get my grandson a quad and it's like, all right here's my excuse. We, when it's nice out there, it's not unlikely for him to call and say, Hey, let's go for a ride. And I probably put 500 hours on the thing just after dinner rides with him in the last year. So I guess that's what I do.

That's what I like. That's my get away, 

Stack: and then I don't know if you read or not. Yeah. Some people don't, some people don't like it. Some people listen to it. Some people 

I try. I just I just can't read, I guess it's my, I don't know if it's OCD or add. I don't know. I've never been diagnosed, but I just can't.

Okay. So there's always something else because my 

next question was going to be about a favorite book, but if there's not one that's okay. We can move on from that. And, 

Chad: and What I would like to to plug is so I tried different podcasts 

what I did find was the getting salty podcast guys out of FDN Y and I've turned a lot of guys onto it in the service, and it's really invigorating. They bring on retired guys from the job. They tell stories. They they give ex. Old-school tips. But really listening to it and guys into the job.

It's really invigorating. And it's a good time, right? Like it's what the fire service should be really. So that's something, I watch that I don't know, I get some enjoyment out of it. Like perfect. Like 

Stack: that. That's perfect. I'll take that answer. So I'm going to thank you for your time.

I've appreciated the conversation. Thank you for having me, it takes some guts to come on and talk about the things you talked about, and I'm happy to hear that things are, you're helping your. 

Chad: Yeah, I'm trying every day is a struggle, I'm trying and listening to the doctors to what I can then, I guess that's the thing is, do what you can and listen to them and you gotta find the right doctor too, though.

If you go to one and it doesn't gel fi find another one, try another one. It might just be that. 

Stack: That's that's perfect advice. Cause I agree with you. There's no point in going to a doctor that is not going to help you. And if it's a personal thing and it just, you guys rub each other wrong, then it's not going to help.

So yeah. Find one that works for you and that's the most important thing. All right. Thank 

Chad: you very much, Chad. Thank you.

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