PTSD Awareness Month: First Responders

PTSD is characterized as exposure to a traumatic event, natural disaster, serious injury and sexual violence (American Psychiatric Association 2002) As someone goes through these events they can not stop thinking about them. The event begins to take over, and every thought that a person has takes them back to the traumatic event. Today we hear about PTSD in military men and women returning from action, but first responders like firefighters, police officers and EMT’s are on the frontline of duty as well. Putting their lives on the line facing events that others sometimes can not even imagine. Being a first responder, you are at a higher risk for PTSD. The risk is higher due to the fact that the daily duties of first responders is putting yourself on the frontline and exposing themselves to traumatic stressors. Anyone can develop PTSD, but first responders are at a higher risk.

I think now is a great time to show others how hard it is to be a first responder and the types of things that they deal with on a daily basis. Right now when you turn on the news you see the protests that are going on and you have seen how some of these protest have turned violent. There was one particular video that caught my eye, it was of firefighters driving to a burning building and running into some of the violent protests. These protesters were standing in the way and throwing objects at the trucks and smashing their windows. Having family members that are firefighters you can see how their whole mood changes when they get that call of a burning building. So many thoughts race through their heads like what caused the fire, is their anyone in the building, are there other buildings or residential houses around that we need to make sure does not get affected by this. They do not need to be worrying about if they are going to get to the scene ok, or worrying about being stopped due to the streets being blocked. They are going risking their physical and mental health health every single call they go on.

Having family members who are EMT’s, firefighters, and police officers I have heard the stories that they tell about the horrific scenes they have driven up on in their careers. They range anywhere from deadly car accidents, shootings, domestic violence scenes, and suicide scenes. Being a first responder you are the first person on the scene, in the moment you are there to do your job but after you have to live with those scenes for the rest of your life. I have seen first hand the effect of being a first responder and exposing themselves to traumatic events has put on their lives and mental health. As firefighters and EMT’s I always tell my uncles, “being able to go and talk to a counselor will be beneficial to your mental health.” Just an outside perspective and professional they can talk to about the things that they see on the job.

When you look at the research that has been done with first responders and PTSD a lot of it has been done with those who were responding to 9/11. In an article by Dietch, Ruggero, Schuler, Taylor, Luft, and Kotove (2019) they looked at the numbers. Up to 20% of the first responders at the World Trade Center had symptoms of PTSD at some point since the attacks. And even today 9.7% still have or are reporting PTSD symptoms (Dietch, et al., 2019). This is just an example of the effects PTSD has on first responders. Almost 20 years after the traumatic event those first responders still have symptoms of PTSD.

If you are in the Chicagoland area and are seeking help, Olive Branch Counseling Associates is here to offer help. 708-633-8000.

 

Richard,

Graduate Intern

 

 

 

 

American Psychiatric Association. (2002). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

disorders: text revision. Washington, DC.

 

Dietch, J. R., Ruggero, C. J., Schuler, K., Taylor, D. J., Luft, B. J., & Kotov, R. (2019).

Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and sleep in the daily lives of World Trade Center responders. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology24(6), 689–702. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000158

PTSD is characterized as exposure to a traumatic event, natural disaster, serious injury and sexual violence (American Psychiatric Association 2002) As someone goes through these events they can not stop thinking about them. The event begins to take over, and every thought that a person has takes them back to the traumatic event. Today we hear about PTSD in military men and women returning from action, but first responders like firefighters, police officers and EMT’s are on the frontline of duty as well. Putting their lives on the line facing events that others sometimes can not even imagine. Being a first responder, you are at a higher risk for PTSD. The risk is higher due to the fact that the daily duties of first responders is putting yourself on the frontline and exposing themselves to traumatic stressors. Anyone can develop PTSD, but first responders are at a higher risk.

 

I think now is a great time to show others how hard it is to be a first responder and the types of things that they deal with on a daily basis. Right now when you turn on the news you see the protests that are going on and you have seen how some of these protest have turned violent. There was one particular video that caught my eye, it was of firefighters driving to a burning building and running into some of the violent protests. These protesters were standing in the way and throwing objects at the trucks and smashing their windows. Having family members that are firefighters you can see how their whole mood changes when they get that call of a burning building. So many thoughts race through their heads like what caused the fire, is their anyone in the building, are there other buildings or residential houses around that we need to make sure does not get affected by this. They do not need to be worrying about if they are going to get to the scene ok, or worrying about being stopped due to the streets being blocked. They are going risking their physical and mental health health every single call they go on.

Having family members who are EMT’s, firefighters, and police officers I have heard the stories that they tell about the horrific scenes they have driven up on in their careers. They range anywhere from deadly car accidents, shootings, domestic violence scenes, and suicide scenes. Being a first responder you are the first person on the scene, in the moment you are there to do your job but after you have to live with those scenes for the rest of your life. I have seen first hand the effect of being a first responder and exposing themselves to traumatic events has put on their lives and mental health. As firefighters and EMT’s I always tell my uncles, “being able to go and talk to a counselor will be beneficial to your mental health.” Just an outside perspective and professional they can talk to about the things that they see on the job.

 

When you look at the research that has been done with first responders and PTSD a lot of it has been done with those who were responding to 9/11. In an article by Dietch, Ruggero, Schuler, Taylor, Luft, and Kotove (2019) they looked at the numbers. Up to 20% of the first responders at the World Trade Center had symptoms of PTSD at some point since the attacks. And even today 9.7% still have or are reporting PTSD symptoms (Dietch, et al., 2019). This is just an example of the effects PTSD has on first responders. Almost 20 years after the traumatic event those first responders still have symptoms of PTSD.

 

If you are in the Chicagoland area and are seeking help, Olive Branch Counseling Associates is here to offer help. 708-633-8000.

 

 

Richard,

Graduate Intern

 

 

 

 

American Psychiatric Association. (2002). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

disorders: text revision. Washington, DC.

 

Dietch, J. R., Ruggero, C. J., Schuler, K., Taylor, D. J., Luft, B. J., & Kotov, R. (2019).

Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and sleep in the daily lives of World Trade Center responders. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology24(6), 689–702. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000158

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: