Battle of the Badges: Raising money for mental health services for Fishers first responders

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Posted at 7:43 AM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 08:56:02-04

FISHERS — There has always been a rivalry between fire and police and in Fishers that runs strong.

This weekend, that long-time rivalry will come to a head and the two departments will battle it out.

“The rivalry stems from the fire guys really not doing anything and just kind of sitting around all day,” Jarred Koopman with Fishers Police Department jokingly said. “Every time I see them, they're kind of usually ... we've woken them up."

That sort of cheeky comment is common among the first responders when they compete.

“One of the things that most people don't know is that when you don't score very well in the fireman's test you become a police officer,” Will Ortiz with Fishers Fire Department said. “You know, police just kind of sit around, drive around eat donuts all day."

This weekend, members of the two departments will meet head-to-head in the Battle of the Badges, a charity softball game held at Holland Park.

“It is very serious. I mean, I think the police — we take it very serious. The fire department from last year's score ... I don't know how serious they take it,” Koopman said.

Ortiz said firefighters will make a strong comeback.

“We let them win last year and this year we're going to definitely bring our 'A' game and make sure that we tie up the series,” Ortiz said.

Although the crews enjoy teasing each other, the cause supported by the annual game is no joke.

The softball game is hosted by the Donaide Foundation. It raises money for the Behind Thin Lines Program which supports first responders, and their families working through the effects of the job.

Depression, anxiety, PTSD and thoughts of suicide are all serious side effects of working as a first responder.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security rates of PTSD and depression among firefighters and police officers have been found to be as much as five times greater than the general population.

First responders are more likely to die by suicide than they are to die in the line of duty.

While it’s a lot of fun and games, the softball game raises money for additional mental health services for Fishers first responders.

Homeland Security says these conditions are ones first responders should look out for in themselves and their coworkers:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Suicide Ideation
  • Substance use disorder

“We are human beings like everyone else and we do have a lot of stress and things that go on in our lives and we need help just like everyone else,” Ortiz said.
Besides the softball game, there will be music, contests and kids’ activities. Even a photo opportunity with the fire truck.

“Everybody wants to get on the fire truck and even the police officers can come and take pictures with their trucks and put on our suits, our helmets and that kind of stuff and feel like they're truly doing something important,” Ortiz said.

While it’s for a good cause, the rivalry takes center stage during the game.

“The police are going to win. I mean, there's no there's no other option. The police are going to win,” Koopman said.

Ortiz hit back by saying, “Last year just kind of gave them a freebie, just kind of get their self-esteem up a little bit,” Ortiz said.

The first pitch is at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24. The entire community is invited to come out and cheer on their favorite department and enjoy the activities around Holland Park.

If you are a first responder experiencing emotional distress there are a number of ways to get help.

Be Well Indiana
Call: 211

Call: 206-459-3020

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Call: 988
Text: 988