City of Independence, Missouri

City of Independence Fire Department shares update on loss of Firefighter Chad Sappenfield

City of Independence Fire Chief Doug Short shared the following statement from the Department and the Sappenfield family regarding his death and ongoing battle with PTSD.

“The Independence Fire Department and the family of Fire Equipment Operator/Paramedic Chad Sappenfield would like to raise awareness to Chad’s battle with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and his tragic death by suicide.

Chad committed his life to the service of his country and community. He served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2006, with a deployment to Iraq and then with the Independence Fire Department from 2008 to present as a Firefighter / Paramedic and Fire Equipment Operator. Throughout his career, Chad was exposed to many traumatic events first-hand. As with both veterans and first responders, this can lead to PTSD. PTSD, according to the Mayo Clinic is a mental health condition that is triggered by a single or multiple terrifying events.

Symptoms and regression of PTSD can induce intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and changes in physical and emotional reaction. PTSD, if not controlled can lead to major medical problems such as depression and anxiety or even suicidal thoughts and/or actions. Recognition and treatment are important and can reduce the ongoing symptoms to improve the well-being of an individual. While PTSD is not exclusive to veterans and first responders, the shear amount of trauma they experience, places them in the highest category of occurrence across the world.

Chad had recognized and accepted over the past few years he was suffering from PTSD. Chad took appropriate steps to begin his treatment and became a strong advocate for both veterans’ groups and his Fire Service family to learn more about PTSD and encouraged them to not be afraid to seek help when they needed it.  Unfortunately, while Chad was not able to fully overcome his illness, it is vital for everyone to understand it is important to seek help, seek treatment, and continue treatment. Just know, that PTSD is just like any other illness, sometimes we can’t overcome it, but never give up hope, and always work to persevere!”

Further details on services and memorials will be provided when available to the public. For those needing help locally, there is a 24-hour crisis hotline available at 1-888-279-8188. First responders in the area may also be interested to learn more about services dedicated to their needs provided by the organization The Battle Within at thebattlewithin.org or the Valor Program at sphkc.net/our-programs/valor-recovery-program.