Are there any support services available for first responders who have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder?

The WCPR residential program offers an educational experience designed to help current and retired first responders recognize the signs and symptoms of work-related stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in themselves and in others. FRSN prefers to identify PTSD as a post-traumatic stress injury. The Help For Our Heroes program is part of a comprehensive treatment curriculum offered at the Transformations Treatment Center. Transformations is licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services and the Health Care Management Agency (AHCA), and is certified by the Joint Commission.

Many programs help treat PTSD and substance use disorders. Whether a first aider seeks an inpatient program, an outpatient program, or support groups, mental health professionals and addiction treatment programs can provide the resources and therapy needed to help the person better cope with stress. Anything that can decrease a lifeguard's resilience or ability to adapt to and process new sources of stress can increase their risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. This program is designed by veterans and first responders FOR veterans and first responders who have primary mental health problems, trauma, PTSD, addiction, depression, and co-occurring disorders.

Car accidents, falls, house fires, and gang-related activities are some examples of situations in which a first aid worker can develop PTSD as a result of exposure to these unfortunate and sometimes horrible circumstances. These signs and symptoms can be difficult for loved ones to see, so it's essential to participate in first responders' addiction and PTSD treatment programs. According to a recent literature review, more than 50% of all firefighter deaths are due to stress and exhaustion. Despite how common PTSD is among first responders, sadly they don't always get the help they deserve.

Alternatively, first responders may not seek help for more complicated reasons, sometimes driven by the unfortunate stigma surrounding PTSD. In fact, one study found that nearly 69% of all emergency medical services professionals never had enough time between the traumatic events they witnessed during their line of work. All first responders should be aware of the health risks posed by their jobs and should know when they need help and how to get it. Considered a form of psychological first aid, CISM teams practice a method to help first responders who have experienced incidents that may cause emotional or physical harm.

For example, police officers respond to emergency calls while patrolling an area, and emergency medical technicians are trained to apply lifesaving techniques at the scene of an accident without the aid of extensive hospital equipment. Although they may have different names, the functions of these first aid groups can be first aid, life support, mobilizing injured people for transportation, and communicating with dispatchers and medical centers in relation to arriving patients. The CISM helps public safety personnel deal with these experiences so that they can continue to work in the service of their communities and do so without developing long-term negative consequences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance use disorder.

Clarissa Tohill
Clarissa Tohill

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