“This is all right at the beginning of fire season, and my symptoms really escalated from that point on. I started being paranoid, a startle response, it was crazy. I thought I was going crazy.” - Chief Linda
The mid-September Saturday in 2015 seemed harmless enough. It was forecasted to be cloudy with low winds and high humidity – a reprieve from a hectic, relentless fire season. Linda had been the duty chief for most of the major fires that had occurred, and she was looking forward to a few days off. But what came to be known as the Valley Fire – then the third-worst wildfire in California state history – had other plans.
Join former firefighter/paramedic and host Phil Klein as he sits down with Linda, a retired chief and 32-year veteran of the fire service. Linda vividly recalls rushing to the fire and learning that the helitack crew – a group she knew well – was in the midst of a mayday situation after being cut off from their escape route. Left in command of the fire while the crew was being rescued, Linda was simultaneously forced to deal with the knowledge that her colleagues were in danger and the realization that the fire was quickly outgrowing the resources initially ordered to combat it. Linda shares how witnessing the crew’s severe burns and injuries profoundly impacted her mental health and led to her diagnosis of PTSD. Now an author and performance coach, she strives to help others accept their PTSD diagnoses and work actively to recover.
Chief Linda's book, Solving the Post Traumatic Stress Brain Injury Puzzle: A First Responder’s GPS, can be purchased here. Thank you for listening! Please take a moment to give Stories from the Road a five-star review on Apple podcasts or whichever platform you use to listen. Don’t forget to visit us on Patreon to learn more about how you can support the podcast.