999 family unite in Lee-on-the-Solent for 22 Push-Up Challenge

SCORES of emergency service workers came together to raise awareness for post dramatic stress disorder.

Tuesday, 23rd August 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:34 pm
Andy Ellwood leads the emergency services team in the push-up challenge Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Paramedics, police officers, firefighters and coastguard officers went all out and did the ‘22 push-up challenge’ opposite the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-the-Solent.

While the internet challenge – to do 22 press-ups for 22 days and nominate others to join in – is to raise awareness of veterans’ mental health, Andy Elmwood, a former RAF paramedic who served in Afghanistan, recognised that people in emergency services also can suffer from the illness given the harrowing things they witness.

Andy, a winchman for Hampshire Search and Rescue, decided to get the ‘999 family’ together and unite as one for the cause.

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Andy said: ‘In the UK, the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide and we have to change that.

‘We need to show people that it is okay to talk and there is no better way than getting all of the emergency services together.

‘There is a stigma attached with the services that there is a macho culture and people are unable to talk about what they’re going through.

‘We need to show people that they do not have to battle it on their own and instead open up.

‘I thought it would be a good idea to get everyone in the services together. A lot of the time when we see each other, it is in bad situations and instead we’re able to unite for a good cause.

‘I’ve made a video of the event and I’m hoping it will go viral to help continue to raise awareness.

Paul Riddell, manager of Redbridge Fire Station, said: ‘Our station started TRiM – Trauma Risk Management – which is peer-to-peer support and has helped a lot of officers.

‘It’s really important that we raise awareness in post-traumatic stress disorder.

‘The stigma is that we’re all the same when in uniform but it’s not like that. People have issues in home life and at work and it’s all about coming forward.

‘Officers have started to talk more frequently and we hope to continue that.’

Jayne Walters, a paramedic who took part in the press up challenge, said: ‘I think it’s really good as we do not get to see these guys unless we’re on a job.

‘The press up challenge is a good drive to encourage people to talk, even if it’s just between jobs.’