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South Florida firefighters to lend mental health support to teams working in war-torn Ukraine

South Florida firefighters to lend mental health support to teams working in war-torn Ukraine
South Florida firefighters to lend mental health support to teams working in war-torn Ukraine 02:44

MIAMI – As soldiers risk their lives on the front lines, crews of first responders are busy clearing out and re-building the areas that have been destroyed.

Those crews, some of which are from other countries like America and Australia, aren't only clearing debris. They're also finding bodies. As a result, they're suffering from deep emotional stress.

That's why a group of South Florida firefighters are headed to Poland to lend mental health support to the teams who need it most.

"When you have a group of what we consider our brothers and sisters, wherever they are in the world, going above and beyond for something like this, the unthinkable, you want to be there for them," said Miami-Dade firefighter Lucianna Genova, who is among the first responders heading to help those on the front Ukrainian. 

For months one horrific image after another has shown the impacts of the war in Ukrainian and it isn't just the people of Ukrainian who are affected but also first responders who are helping to provide aid and search and recovery.

"They're going into buildings that were bombed and distorted and they're trying to look for survivors or people out there that may be decease," said Bert Fernandez with Hollywood Fire Rescue.

For many, the death and destruction can be too much, so now local first responders are on their way to help the first responders who are on the frontline of war-torn Ukraine.  A project made possible through CBS4's Neighbors4Neighbors in collaboration Phoenix Life Project organized by Neil Handler, the father of the teen pulled from the surfside rubble.

"We're meeting with the American team and Australian teams that are there, were going to debrief them and make sure that they know they have the mental support from here," said Marie Guma with Command and Counselor Center.

"What we're really trying to do is help everybody get pass the trauma and move on with their lives and be able to thrive," said Katy Meagher with Neighbors4Neighbors.

An effort Meagher says is priceless.

"Neighbors4Neighbors raises funds the same way we always do, garnering support of the community and connecting those in need with those who can help. At the time we didn't know how we can help and then the opportunity came up that we can assess first responders with their mental health, which is so important," added Meagher.

Peer support that Genova says can be make the world of difference.

"The biggest thing in what we do is PTSD, so once those signs and systems, if they're having problems past those 30 days, we want to reel it in," added Genova.

The group is schedule to land in Poland for the debriefing Thursday and say they will meet with the team of urban responders as long as necessary.

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