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wildland firefighter

So I was thinking now would be a good time to type this up after seeing how good things have been going with my new crew..

 I am still a work in progress, but you guys have really helped me get a hold of some serious issues.. just the beginning of my off season I was faced with some pretty dark thoughts. I would lash out at people, I couldn’t maintain my relationships very well, and I did not want to live. 

Next Rung has really come through for me. You all got me in touch with some really skilled professionals. For the first time in my life I was opening up to someone else without any sort of reservations. Not only was this experience a start in a better practice with mental health, this changed my outlook on life. 

I've been able to meet people and be completely upfront with them and form relationships. A year ago I would have never considered the possibility of being able to have a romantic relationship, but recently I've been open enough to enjoy such a meaningful relationship. I am now a part of an established crew and I am able to really connect and trust these crew mates. My career is taking off as a result of caring for my mental health. 

Next Rung has helped me take ownership of my own mental health and life and I am forever grateful for what good has come from it. 

In fire, we have a lot of stressors and should be willing to connect and recognize that we all need help sometimes. I was afraid to lose respect from crew mates and afraid that seeking help might make it more difficult to secure a higher position, but I am moving up now. Much faster that I could have imagined. All of this is because I've taken steps to care for having good mental health. 

 Thank you Next Rung for providing me with the right resources to make this life a really successful one. 


emt | firefighter

For several months prior and leading up to April 2018 I was on the brink of suicide. By the end of March I had, had enough. Several days later on April 4, I had wrote a suicide note to my parents. To this day I still don’t know what stopped me… I was literally centimeters away from giving myself an arterial bleed. I survived that day and went on to survive and write this testimonial.

A few weeks later brings me to April 20th. On that night, while working a 12 hour shift over night in the emergency room, I was scrolling through Instagram in my downtime. I’m not sure if by the grace of God or coincidence or what but, I came across a post from a firefighter page I follow, Next Rung. The post can be found on their Instagram page and reads:

“If you are in immediate need of help and need to speak with one of us, please call our Google number at (678)783-3686.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, Immediately call 1-800-273-8255.

 3 days later on April 23, 2018 I was still having suicidal thoughts. At 11pm that night I texted the Next Rung Google number:

“Is anybody there..”

 I went to bed scared of myself and scared for my life. I didn’t have a plan but I was alone and ending everything felt right… at that time.

I got a response from Blake at Next Rung at 6 am the next day. This man saved my life and I’m forever grateful for him and Next Rung. By 8am Blake had called me to talk about everything going on. I laid it all out and told him everything. After I was done, Blake gave me his advice on everything. I think we probably spent about a good hour, maybe more, on the phone.

Since that day, April 24, 2018, I’ve stayed in contact with Blake. To him I am a complete stranger. To me he was my life line. Blake and Next Rung only “know” me from what they see on Instagram. Regardless of who I was back in April, or what Blake saw in me (from Instagram), Blake saw my messages and responded back. With one purpose, to help me. Blake is one of the most selfless dudes I’ve gotten to know over the past few months.

Since talking to Blake, I’ve gotten better and feel better and my ideation has diminished. Just because the ideation isn’t there anymore doesn’t mean I would stop talking to him though. I keep Blake, and the Next Rung support team up to date with my current situation and feelings. In return I get nothing but support and encouragement to “keep fighting the good fight”. I have never met Blake or anybody from Next Rung in person.

After receiving my text in need of help, Blake became a friend, a listener and a supporter to me, instantly. I hope one day I get the chance to meet him and the Next Rung team because all of them are great people.

 Forever grateful and fighting the good fight.

 Thank you,




About a month and a half ago I was offered a position with another Fire Department in another state. It was a great opportunity but also a stressful one. It was a big decision! I was stressing over it, affecting my sleep, diet, and performance. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it and was getting mixed emotions from the people I would talk to. This opportunity meant moving to a state I hadn’t spent more than a day in before , not knowing anyone, and could affect my relationship at the time. But it also meant advancing my career, more training, etc. If I didn’t take the opportunity I would have still been a firefighter but at a department where I was just comfortable. This decision would not only affect me but others as well. I was feeling guilty for leaving the department and the guys I was already working with. Like I said, it caused a lot of stress! 


I remember seeing Next Rung on social media a lot and that they were always posting about helping others and being there to talk too. At first I thought this surely isn’t the type of problems they were talking about , but I was wrong! I sent them a message and almost immediately I was put in contact with Blake! He talked through it with me and showed me that they are truly there for our brothers and sisters no matter what it is! I am very grateful for that!! He helped me through a very stressful situation, talked it out with me, and helped me with a big decision! I could not be more grateful for Next Rung! I strongly suggest that if you are struggling with ANYTHING that you get in contact with them! They are here for us! And I am proud to wear my next ring shirt to support them in helping others!


Thank you guys very much!


firefighter | emt

So I finally decided to type this up again. Now that I've really been through the ringer and tested myself to see how I'm really doing with time itself.


2018 was probably the hardest year since the passing of my brother back in 2011. This year I was all alone to face my giants with no one to actually communicate with. I started realizing I had major problems towards the beginning of the year but did my best to shove them to the side, not knowing I was creating a monster that was waiting to grow bigger than I could handle. I joined the EMS service back in 2013 as a 19 year old kid who dreamed of becoming a firefighter. Not knowing what it actually took to be a First Responder, I was fresh out of EMT school and into the real life field. I was rudely awakened. When I first started within that year, I had terrible calls, and as a teenager I was still unsure how to handle or control what I saw. During that time they offered ZERO counseling either. The best advice I got at the time was "talk to a more experienced guy and move on, we'll see you tomorrow." So I held onto a lot of pain and mental issues all the way up to 2018 where I ran calls that were unreal and unpredictable. And a couple of them were the "there’s nothing I can do" calls. 


I Remember reading and watching someones story on Instagram and seeing a story of someone overcoming a real growing problem in the Fire Service. I then began following NEXT RUNG and read what they’re all about. I remember messaging NEXT RUNG unsure if they would reply anytime soon, but within 20 minutes I had a response. Blake immediately responded 

"We are Here Brother. 678.783.3686. Call or Text whenever!" 


Blake and I had some pretty rough conversations that I honestly didn't know if I was ready to even talk about them. But my thoughts grew bigger and bigger and got worse. I was losing sleep, losing energy, losing relationships, and losing hope. I had no one I could talk to, not even my own department. But Blake didnt hesitate nor push off one bit. He saved my life. For that, for him, and for the NextRung Team/Community, I'm forever grateful beyond what words can say. 

Still, Blake reaches out to me just to check up on me. I never asked him to do that. I never asked him for anything, except for help in the beginning and He relentlessly pursued that expectation. I'm still a work in progress. I'm always going to experience new things and hard things on the Job and in Life. Thats another thing, it's not just about the job, He cares about your whole life and that is what’s so special. I'm not perfect, but I strive to be the best human I can possibly be.

If you’re ever struggling, if you feel voiceless, if you feel stuck, if you feel scared, if you feel worthless, if you feel like a failure, if you're at the edge and just want everything to end right there... DON’T. These guys CARE. They're ready anytime, any day, and any hour to listen, talk, and even pray. You're life is not worth giving up on. It's worth Living!!! 


Thank you Blake and the NEXT RUNG Team. You allowed me to remember why I'm living my dream of helping people and reignited the passion for my life overall. 


With all the Love and Gratitude,



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