Woman to compete in Louisville Ironman wearing firefighter gear for PTSD awareness
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you think competing in an Ironman is tough, imagine what it's like in full firefighter gear.
That's exactly what Diana Woolf will be doing at the Louisville Ironman next weekend. The 47-year-old has been a firefighter for 23 years, and she’s raising awareness about PTSD among firefighters.
“I've lost friends. I mean, if my husband wasn't a firefighter, I probably would have lost him,” Woolf said while acknowledging her own PTSD. “And myself, I contemplated suicide at one point.”
Woolf found herself in hole she couldn't climb out of because her PTSD until she started competing in triathlons. In a way, it acted as therapy. Now, the Village of Highland Hills, Ohio, firefighter is gearing up, literally, for the Louisville Ironman.
“The jackets, the pants, I wear the liners, which is a huge portion of our gear," Woolf said. "It's like a thermal barrier, but it also contains a lot of heat, which is what makes it most difficult. I wear the helmet, and then I wear the air pack on my back."
She'll be wearing all 37 pounds of it during the marathon portion of the Ironman. She hopes to shed light on the silent killer, because she said most firefighters aren't talking about PTSD.
“They're not saying they're having problems, because it is such a sign of weakness, which is the point of why I'm doing this ... to show that you're not weak," Woolf said. "You complete a full Ironman in fire gear, and you can have PTSD, so just come out and say 'I have problems. I need help,'"
Woolf said, statistically, more firefighters die of suicide related to PTSD than line-of-duty deaths.
“A lot of it is the calls we go on. It could be one call, it could be a career full of calls that builds you up,” she said.
She hopes by competing in races in her gear, it'll motivate and encourage other firefighters to face their PTSD head on.
The Louisville Ironman on Oct. 14 will be Woolf’s second full Ironman in her firefighter gear. Her organization, Rescue4PTSD, raises money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. If you’d like to make a donation click here.
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