A documentary is doing its part to let first responders know that it’s okay to talk about PTSD and other mental health issues.
Actor Enrico Colantoni, who played Sgt. Greg Parker on the popular series, Flashpoint, is the co-producer of The Other Side of the Hero along with Peabody-award winning filmmaker Karen Shopsowitz and producer Diana Warmé. Colantoni is known for his work on shows that include Veronica Mars, Person of Interest, Travellers, and Just Shoot Me.
The documentary focuses on paramedics, 911 dispatchers, police officers, and firefighters from across Canada and the United States, who talk about their experiences in intimate conversations with Colantoni.
These first responders have experienced the flip-side of what can happen when a hero discovers that they are not emotionally immune to all that they deal with during their on-duty time.
Since its release, the documentary has been screened to many first responder groups across Canada and in several American festivals, including DocUTAH, the New York Mental Health Film Festival, and YoFiFest (Yonkers, NY). It received a Special Jury Remi Award at the 2018 Worldfest Houston.
In March, it was screened at the Illinois Firefighters Peer Support Symposium, and in June, it was shown at the International Fire Buff Associate Conference, held in Montreal (ifba.org).
The film is now available for purchase by individual stations, fire halls, peer support teams, and associations as well as for use in classrooms and training centers for first responders.
The response from both the public and the first responder community has been excellent.
Retired dispatcher Dave Ralph notes, “What can you say about The Other Side of the Hero: Honest and true to life in the realm of the First Responder world.”
Says paramedic Stefanie Miller, who works with first responders dealing with PTSD and other issues (www.StefanieSpeaks.com), “In a world where the demands are increasing for job performance, it is important to also recognize that first responders are human, we hurt, we need support and time to self-care in order to stay well on the job. The Other Side of the Hero is an excellent tool that can be used to get the conversation going."
Police Sergeant Stephen Shaw, of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, Canada, writes, “I enjoyed the format in a casual style group setting reflecting on individual experiences. I felt it was far more effective than a clinical/medical diagnosis style of documentary. I really enjoyed the film and I feel it sends a good message to all first responders.”
Tim Grutzius, a retired firefighter who works with the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support team, notes, “This documentary is both an excellent educational tool and conversation starter for first responders, their families and the public at large whom we serve.”
Says Enrico Colantoni, “Working as an actor who plays a cop cut close. My brother was a police officer for 30 years. The glamorization of the profession on screen is something that I recognize.”
When approached by fans who tell him they want to become a cop because of his show, Colantoni says, “You don’t want to be a cop, you want to be an actor!”