For his final engagement in the city after his Earthshot Innovation Summit, William visited the Ten House Fire Station... after a jog in Central Park.
He asked the firefighters : “How do you guys feel about mental health, is it something you guys talk about? Is there still a stigma?” He then said it was important for them to speak about these issues so problems “don’t build up” later.
The prince was keen to visit the station to highlight emergency workers, as he served as one himself between 2015 and 2017 with the East Anglian air ambulance and as an RAF search and rescue pilot, and has remained passionate about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of first responders.
He had earlier revealed how he couldn’t resist joining New Yorkers on their morning jogs around Central Park.
Speaking during a Q&A session at the summit, he added: “It’s wonderful waking up in New York on a sunny morning after the rain we had yesterday, beautiful getting some fresh air this morning.”
He was taken to the 9/11 Memorial Wall commemorating all the firefighters who lost their lives in the twin towers terror attack and was told that Ten House had been nearly destroyed and six members of its team were killed.
As a result, the fire station has its own 9/11 memorial inside, which the prince viewed. He also inspected some of their kit and a collection of hundreds of badges on the walls from other fire stations and agencies from different US states. Speaking later at a round table discussion about how emergency workers deal with mental health issues, William said: “One thing we’ve found quite useful was a text service, so whenever you’re feeling you need it, you can text someone.”
He was told that the trauma following 9/11 had helped to end the stigma surrounding firefighters asking for mental health support.
William then went on a walkabout, meeting the crowds outside the station, posing for selfies and chatting to tourists. “This is what the prince is known for,” one well-wisher remarked, “meeting the public.”
The names of the 15 finalists competing for this year’s five Earthshot Prize awards were revealed during the summit. The finalists represent six continents and were selected from more than 1,000 nominees for their commitment to solving global climate challenges.