By Casey Neill
Three Keysborough firefighters are stepping up to fight depression, PTSD and suicide.
Emmanuel Vella, Loretta Binder and Wayne Aumann will don 25 kilograms in firefighting gear and climb 28 floors at the Crown Metropol Hotel on Saturday 2 September.
The Firefighter’s Charity Fund hopes its Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb will raise $500,000 for Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute.
Ms Binder said she was taking part to help raise awareness, improve support services, fund research and remove stigmas associated with mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide.
“Many people at one time or another have had a loved one or have personally struggled at times in their lives with mental health issues,” she said.
“I passionately believe that by having more conversations about mental health as well as funding available for that right support services can make a big difference.
“I hope that through the efforts of the Keysborough Fire Brigade team we can raise awareness amongst our families, friends and the community, remove the stigma and encourage more people to reach out if they need help.”
Her training over the past month has included regular trips to the 1000 steps in Upper Ferntree Gully, including sessions with a weight vest.
“I often bump into other firies doing the same,” she said.
Ms Binder has also been training at the station in full turnout gear and breathing apparatus, plus fitting in some Crossfit sessions to work on strength.
Mr Vella has lost dear friends to undiagnosed PTSD.
“It has been close to 20 years since I lost one of my friends, and only recently I have lost another,” he said.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t think about them.”
His training includes a five-kilometre run or walk from the Richmond train station to his office in the Docklands, plus an 18-floor stair climb in his office building every hour.
This year’s climb will be Mr Aumann’s third. Raising funds and awareness for mental health drives his participation.
“This is also a great time to build friendships and helps all maintain a better level of fitness,” he said.
“My training currently is three to four sessions a week ranging from cardio, box kick and tone up sessions and, when time permits, the 1000 Steps in turnout gear.
“I hope to arrange a couple of group training session for the Keysborough team in the coming weeks, so if you see us out and about running – or walking quickly – in our turnout gear, please give us your support.”
Mr Aumann, 48, hopes to better his personal best time of six minutes.
The team has raised more than $1000 and hopes to reach $2000 by the stair climb.
Readers can donate at www.firefighterclimb.org.au/station/cfa/keysborough.