On April 8 2003 our founder, Mark Thomas, attended a suicide as part of his policing duties and he was hit hard by the sight. Something was markedly different to any other deceased persons or trauma scenes he had attended in the past but failed to recognise and heed to the subsequent warning signs. Although Mark did not spill one drop of blood that day, he was still undeniably severely injured; the resultant psychological damage was significant.
Nearly a decade later, the situation came to a head and Mark was hospitalised. During this period, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. Whilst in hospital, Mark felt intensely alone. Although a part of his brain registered that he wasn't physically alone, the injury that he sustained would not allow that clear thought to take root, and the feeling of loneliness soared.
During the gradual recovery from his acute phase, Mark spent much time thinking about his stay in the hospital and the impact that debilitating sense of loneliness had on his wellbeing.
Mark set himself the goal of creating a PTSD support group that would show to others in the same situation that they are not alone. From the small beginnings of a Facebook group with 30 members, Code 9 has now expanded to a membership of over 2,800 first responders, including police, fire, ambulance and dispatchers within the group.
With the amazing help of some highly dedicated people to administer Code 9, it has transitioned from a small single group of people meeting in Melbourne to multiple groups in regional and rural Victoria that meets in numerous locations, supporting hundreds of emergency services members.