Chris’s Long Walk Home

Member News image Chris visited a number of CFA stations on his journey, including Dromana

 

Raising awareness and breaking down barriers was the motivation for Emerald Fire Brigade’s Chris May to participate in the Long Walk Home, a 116km walk that raises money and awareness for mental health.

 

Starting at Point Nepean and finishing in the CBD, the Long Walk Home raises funds and awareness for the 000 Foundation, a charity that advances the welfare of emergency services personnel.

“I was at Fort Pearce one day at I could just see the city, and I thought to myself ‘it’d be cool to walk there’, so I decided why not do it for a good cause? That’s when I decided to do the Long Walk Home,” Chris said.

Originally from a military background, Chris was diagnosed with PTSD after being involved in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Feeling lost once back home, he found solace in the emergency services.

“I left the army in 2017 and didn’t really know what to do with myself,” he said. “That’s when I found CFA. I fell in love with the camaraderie and fell in love with firefighting.”

In subsequent years, Chris became a firefighter for Forest Fire Management, and eventually Fire Rescue Victoria – all while remaining a volunteer with CFA.

One constant, however, was the presence of mental health struggles in his emergency service colleagues.

“In emergency services you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.

“Each day, each job, each incident – they’re all different and that can really impact people.”

Chris said the mental health battles he and his peers experience was motivation to raise awareness and funds for the cause.

“I wanted to do something that was a battle of the mind,” he said.

“I wanted to challenge myself mentally and physically because there’s people out there that struggle every day, and I wanted to do something that wasn’t easy.

“Sometimes you hit a physical barrier; sometimes you hit a mental barrier - and they’re both just as debilitating as each other.”

Breaking down barriers was also a key part of the walk, and Chris said the route the walk followed highlighted the unity of the sector.

“I travelled through each of the fire service areas and had so much support from colleagues along the way,” Chris said.

“We are all there for the same reason and that’s the service the community.

“All I wanted for the walk was to show it doesn’t matter what agency you’re from, we’re all in this together.

“That’s what it was all about – bringing together the services to recognise that all emergency service personnel are at risk when it comes to mental health illness and the impacts of what we do.”

Chris was joined for part of his walk by Beaconsfield Fire Brigade's Dave Stork, who joined Chris for the first 38km of his walk, and Berwick Fire Brigade volunteer, ESTA Dispatcher and recent graduate paramedic Nick Johnson, who walked from Frankston to Melbourne alongside Chris.

Find out more about the Long Walk Home here. To seek assistance, please call the CFA Wellbeing Line on 1800 959 232.

 

  • Member News imageChris with the crews from Frankston CFA
  • Member News image Rye CFA and Sorrento SES at the emergency services open day at the Rye Foreshore
  • Member News image Chris and Nick Johnson - Berwick CFA volunteer. Nick joined Chris from Frankston to Melbourne
  • Member News image With Sorrento tanker 2 at Point Nepean
Submitted by CFA News