City of Long Beach 
Public Information Office
411 W. Ocean Blvd, 
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach is First City to be Awarded Grant for Mental Health First Aid for Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Jake Heflin
Long Beach Fire Department

As a stand-alone applicant, the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) is the first fire department in the nation to receive a three-year “Mental Health Awareness Training Grant,” from the UnitedStatesDepartmentofHealthandHumanServices for its efforts to address issues surrounding homelessness and mental illness. The grant, totaling $360,968, was awarded to the LBFD’s Homelessness Education and Response Team (HEART) by way of the SubstanceAbuseandMentalHealthServicesAdministration (SAMHSA).

“We want to thank the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for this new fund to continue our Everyone Home Long Beach efforts in addressing homelessness and mental health issues within our community,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “With this additional resource, our fire team is able to conduct further enhanced training internally and assist other fire departments looking to emulate some of our City’s program within their jurisdictions.”

“Last year, the HEART team began teaching the ‘Mental Health First Aid for Fire and EMS’ class to our Fire personnel. Team members, Joel Davis and Justin Verga, became the first two Firefighters/Paramedics on the west coast certified to teach the class,” said Fire Chief Michael DuRee. “We have an ongoing commitment to give firefighters the best strategies to assist someone experiencing a mental illness or substance use-related crisis, and with this award from SAMHSA, the HEART unit will now be able to deliver this class to first responders throughout the region.”

“Mental Health First Aid for Fire and EMS” is a newly developed course that was designed around the premise that as firefighters learn to help others, they also learn to recognize and assist other firefighters with the behavioral health issues that affect the first responder community as a result of constant exposure to high-stress emergency scenes. The class teaches a five-step action plan that discusses, in depth, the skills, resources, and knowledge that are necessary to help an individual who is in crisis connect with the appropriate professional, peer and self-help care.

Firefighters learn the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems. Also, they learn about the importance of early intervention and how, as first responders, they can intervene in the field and provide direct assistance to someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

“Mental Health First Aid for Fire and EMS” is done in partnership with Mental Health First Aid USA, a program managed, operated, and disseminated by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 480,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.

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About Long Beach Fire Department
The mission of the Long Beach Fire Department is to protect lives, property, and the environment, improving the quality of life and safety of the community and our visitors. Visit us at, "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.