Addressing post-traumatic stress disorder in the fire service

An International Association of Fire Fighters’ report released in September 2016 foundd that firefighters exhibit levels of post-traumatic stress disorder rivaling that of combat veterans. (Image by Q.)

By Christine Pao and Jana Tran

Firefighting is one of the most dangerous and stressful occupations in the world. Day in and day out, firefighters place themselves in harm’s way to come to the rescue of those in need. First responders such as firefighters are exposed to trauma as a natural and unavoidable part of their work. For this reason, firefighters need to be incredibly resilient.

But what is it, exactly, that makes firefighters’ jobs so stressful? In many large fire departments, firefighters are not merely responding to fire calls; their job is much more complex and varied. Firefighters in large urban fire departments, such as the Houston (TX) Fire Department (HFD), are expected to answer emergency medical services calls as well. This means that putting out fires is not the only requirement of their job; often, firefighters must respond to motor vehicle accidents, burn victims, severely injured victims, and violent deaths. On the job, it’s very likely that firefighters will face a number of different traumatic situations.

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What does your department do or offer to help you postively deal with post traumatic stress?

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we have debriefing discussions and often special meetings to address trauma as well as services available to us by various counselor/psychiatric agencies if needed to deal with traumatic stress

we are as i assume all your departments are a very tight knit group of people, and being on these forums just makes our "family" much larger

My experience as a counselor in the service allows me to talk to people when they need it.

and that's not just in my home town I'm here as well if needed.

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