“Nobody needs to fight alone.” These are words to live by, spoken by Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) Battalion Chief, Greg Taylor.
Taylor has seen everything imaginable during his 31 years of service – a whole lot of good, but a whole lot of devastation, too. He never let the difficult side of the job deter him.
Taylor’s father served 27 years on the KCFD. “I spent a lot of time during my childhood at the fire station,” Taylor said. “I liked the environment and wanted to help people.”
In 1990, just his second year after graduating from the fire academy, he was involved in his first CPR life-saving situation. That inspiring moment early in his career solidified his commitment to his work, and the next three decades of service alongside his fellow firefighters were full of intense rescue missions. Some successful. Some not, despite giving everything they had to save a life.
Being called into action in response to fires, vehicle accidents and other emergencies, Taylor and his comrades witness deaths and life-changing injuries frequently. He is haunted by “not being able to get to people in time.” He’s also seen tragedy strike his co-workers in the line of duty. Even suicide.
The heavy burden that comes with consistently seeing physical and mental distress can mount into an impossibly heavy weight. This is true for many in Taylor’s line of work and he searched for way to help his colleagues.
“I had been talking with a mentor about getting some more tools in my toolbox to help with two friends that had been suicidal,” Taylor said. “This person realized my need for help.”
Taylor was so busy working to get help for his colleagues, he hadn’t recognized his own needs. He was introduced to The Battle Within, a Kansas City-based non-profit organization that offers help with the healing process for first responders, military, frontline medical workers and others who spend their lives in service to others.
“Things started to resonate with me quickly. We had been talking about coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety that were commonly used, like alcohol, drugs and even shopping binges. That’s when it all finally clicked with me. I use the invaluable tools that were learned there every single day.”
With the help he received at The Battle Within, Taylor not only has built a better way to navigate the challenges of his high-performance career, but also is able to be on the look-out for others who need the same help.
In fact, Taylor continues to save lives as a volunteer mentor in the The Battle Within system. “It’s very inspirational to see the change for the better in each person that goes through the program.”
Taylor’s advice is to not hesitate to ask for help. “Even if you’re hard-headed like me,” he adds.
When asked what Taylor would say to fellow first responders, “If you are having some anxiety issues, if you’re having a hard time coping with a situation or event, seek out some help. Nobody needs to fight alone. There are tools and people available to share your burdens and to help you get through whatever it is you are battling.”
This is great insight from a man who knows first-hand about big-time pressure. Because of his long-time service as a Kansas City firefighter and his leadership in mentoring others through their behavioral health journey, Blue KC is proud to partner with the Kansas City Royals to honor Greg Taylor as a “Blue KC Hometown Hero”. Greg will be recognized at the Kansas City Royals game on Friday, May 21.