Health & Wellness

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Other not to Suffer in Silence

ff676517442e7e44dfe5_F975326B-9924-47BC-A10F-A0A726F08947.jpeg
Paterson firefighter Kyle Hughes opened up about his struggles with alcohol. Credits: John Hund
2fbe363c95fcd8bcf8d0_2A4052E0-F4CC-4EE8-9F4C-65AC6D0AAD4F.jpeg
Kyle Hughes joined the Paterson Fire Department in 2009 Credits: Kyle Hughes
ff676517442e7e44dfe5_F975326B-9924-47BC-A10F-A0A726F08947.jpeg

PATERSON, NJ- Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters isn’t told in this publication.

Indeed, for them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us. That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street which led to the eventual total collapse of the structure.

However, while they may mask it well, the trauma and stress faced by members of the fire service at times becomes more than they can handle. Not always being conditioned to speak about their feelings has caused too many to suffer in silence, seeking comfort through substance abuse, and, at an all too alarming rate, choosing a more final solution. 

Sign Up for E-News

For one Paterson firefighter, his own struggles with alcohol were brought forward on Wednesday in front of more than 400 of his counterparts from all across the state at the NJ FMBA Education conference in Atlantic City. His story was part of a panel discussion highlighting the union’s Peer Assistance Program which offers a variety of mental health counseling opportunities to members at no cost.

Kyle Hughes, who joined the Paterson Fire Department in 2009, said that his struggle began as a college student in Nebraska upon the tragic death of his older brother in a construction accident in 1992. His “escape”, he told the audience, was in alcohol, and a lot of it. 

“I wasn’t a bad guy,” Hughes said. “I was a sick guy that didn’t know how to get better.”

Despite obtaining good jobs in the construction industry that had him traveling the country, and earning a membership in the United Association of Plumbers (UA), his struggle with alcohol abuse continued, eventually leading to his dismissal from the union.

The death of his father in 2004, Hughes said, really sent him “off the rails” for about six months until realizing, upon losing his job, that he had hit what he called “rock bottom” and decided to seek treatment.

His drinking days behind him, things were looking up for Hughes, until a breakup sent him into another tailspin, and though equipped to stay away from alcohol, he did “isolate” himself. While he doesn’t believe he had any intention of harming himself, Hughes recalled traveling down Route 80 at speeds topping 100 mph when he received a phone call from a fellow firefighter who, recognizing distress in his voice, invited him for a cup of coffee.

That simple act, a cup of coffee and a listening ear, and “everything changed,” Hughes said, helping him make the decision to see a therapist for more support.

“When someone wants to listen, it changes everything,” Hughes, who now serves as the Northern District Vice President of the FMBA, a position he uses to speak to as many others, in firefighting and beyond, about his struggles, in hopes of encouraging others to find the help they need, said.

“It’s been a long and, at times, difficult journey, that is never really over,” Hughes told TAPinto Paterson following his speech. “I’m in a much better place now, and that’s because of the path I’ve taken. My life is full of gifts. If my words and experience encouraged just one more person to find help for their struggles, opening up the way I did was worth it.”

A standing ovation, and a hug from NJ FMBA President Eddie Donnelly, awaited Hughes as he concluded his comments with a final reminder that while they are highly trained to save others, they “have to start learning how to save (themselves)”

“What Kyle did today was articulate issues so many of us in the fire service have faced,” said Donnelly. “We have to stop suffering in silence and start speaking up, being heard, and sharing our feelings.” 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

You Meet the Most Amazing People on the Trail

The weather cooperated this weekend, so I went for more than one hike. After all, there are only just over fifty days before my walk to Maine commences, so why not.

This Saturday, some friends dragged me away from housecleaning (thank you!) for a quick jaunt through Watchung Reservation.  While we were there, we ran into two individuals from Westfield; the cosplayers introduced themselves ...

Go Take a Walk

Friday, March 30 was Take a Walk in the Park Day, so I did.  I really didn't have an excuse to not do so; the sun was shining, I had the day off, and I had no plans for the rest of the day.  So after a session with Abbe, my trainer at LifeTime Fitness, I made the short trip to Lake Surprise in Watchung Reservation. 

As I made my way around the lake, it was easy to see how ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_98e6f8cc6152ebe48392_screen_shot_2018-05-21_at_12.27.38_am

Mon, May 28, 10:00 AM

Plainfield City Hall, Plainfield

Memorial Day Service

Tue, May 29, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Bleep Lab

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_bf9ab69ee5ceb02382a0_celebrate_national_trails_day

Sat, June 2, 8:00 AM

Plainfield City Hall, Plainfield

Celebrate National Trails Day

Green Health & Wellness

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County Teens Prepare for Leadership Conference

May 26, 2018

Union, NJ - Members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County’s Keystone Club (Teen Leadership) will be journeying to the National Keystone Conference at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia on June 22-24.

This year, 25 deserving members have been selected to attend the conference based on their involvement in activities and community service throughout the year. Local heroes ...

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that was ...

La Promesa de Graduación

May 25, 2018

Querido Plainfield, 

 

Nosotros que creemos en el poder transformativo de la educación sabemos que estamos en un momento del año muy especial. Es el momento que millones de sueños en el mundo se realizan y visiones del futuro se hacen tangibles; es un tiempo de celebración y gratificación, es la felicidad que sentimos cuando llegamos a un ...

School’s Out: Your Exclusive Summer Getaway Guide

May 22, 2018

Summer... a time to do whatever you please without having the stress of school or work.

But like many others, you may find yourself unsure of how to spend your summer days. So, if you’re looking for something cool to do when it’s hot, consider these ideas:

Get Cultured: Metropolitan Museum of Art: If you’re fascinated with art of all sorts from classic to modern, then this ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.