Coon Rapids resident Carol Castle is a mom on a quest. She's spent the past two years of her life trying to get a life-saving coin in the hands of every first responder in the country.
"This idea came in the middle of the night at 2:30 a.m. in the morning,” Castle said.
The idea of having a Life Coin in the pocket of every police officer or firefighter was something Carol was destined to do.
By the nature of the job, first responders experience more trauma than those in other professions which leads to higher rates of depression, suicide, and PTSD.
Carol recalled a chilling moment when she was giving a mini seminar on the Life Coins project in another state.
"I've had somebody interested in sponsoring a particular Sheriff's department,” said Castle. “As I'm talking to a Sheriff or a captain, and I found out they've had suicides."
RELATED: CTN Journal Nov. 2019 - Life Coins
Castle created the Life Coin program after the death of her son, Maury, who was a firefighter and took his own life at age 31. After shopping around for a suicide prevention hotline to partner with, she had the phone number imprinted on the coin.
"The first day when I was making calls I was so frustrated, it's like I started calling every cop I knew, cross-country like, who would you or your chief recommend, if you were in crisis? And I started hearing the name, Safe Call Now," Castle said.
Safe Call Now is a nationwide hotline operated, 24/7, by first responders. It’s a crisis line for first responders and other emergency responders, frontline personnel and their families.
When Carol launched the Life Coin back in April of 2019, the response was quick. "One of the first two lives we saved, the very first day was a firefighter from Canada."
Safe Call Now was a perfect match for Castle and Life Coins.
"Carol's got heart, and that's one thing that really drew me to her," said Sean Riley who is the founder and president of Safe Call Now. He says Carol's work is making a difference.
"Those Life Coins, I mean you just never know who you're going to touch with those,” said Riley. “Because we carry them around with us and whenever I'm in an airport or out and about, and I see an officer and hand it out, you'd be surprised they actually call the hotline. It just works."
With nearly 20,000 Life Coins in circulation in all 50 states and some parts of Canada, Castle has now added a Military Life Coin to the mix. She wants both active duty and military veterans to have a resource in their pocket when they need help or someone to talk to.
"They need to be in their hands,” Castle exclaimed. “They need to be able to have them in their pockets so they can talk to someone anonymous that's gone through this process, that's not Army, that's not Navy, that's not going to bite them."
If you want to learn more, check out the Life Coins website.