Facing Trauma as a First Responder

Facing Trauma as a First Responder

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Every day first responders put their lives in danger for everyone else, bravely facing trauma, accidents, natural disasters, and more. These trained professionals play an important role in our everyday lives, even when we do not see them. Without them, we could not function.

However, the work of a first responder is difficult. Facing trauma every day can take a significant toll on one’s mental health. Thanks to the work of researchers and the voices of first responders in the field, the public has begun to learn about the critical ways first responders’ mental health is impacted by their jobs. Thankfully, there are ways to help these heroes find healing and develop coping skills that can lessen the impact of their jobs.

Everyday Heroes Facing Trauma

Who are first responders? Most of us know them as firemen, police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and even emergency room staff members at a hospital. First responders include anyone who responds to an emergency. These professionals are the backbone of our society. They put out fires that burn our homes and businesses, rescue us from car accidents, and treat our wounds with a grace few could muster.

First responders are tireless in their efforts to keep our society running. Even though they often face situations that can seem challenging and chaotic, they keep clear heads and do their jobs, sometimes posing great risks to themselves.

As a society, we recognize that emergency workers have a tough job. That is why emergency workers have a special portal that addresses their mental health needs on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

Facing Trauma and Dealing With Stressful Situations

Many of us have seen the jokes on social media about avoiding getting up in the morning for work and wishing we could prevent Mondays. However, one type of job in our country does not offer the luxury of avoiding the week or the work that comes with it. Those are the jobs that first responders do.

Running into a burning building, being called to an altercation with an armed aggressor, or facing trauma such as a car accident with potential fatalities are some of the most stressful situations a person can face. Jobs that require facing these scenarios place a lot of stress on the individual.

Of course, stress can have a big impact on both physical and emotional health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finding effective ways to cope with stress is important. First responders need to use the usual stress-management techniques and new and innovative strategies for alleviating their anxiety.

Ways to Deal With Stress

A few ways we can all alleviate stress in our lives include:

  • Journaling our thoughts and emotions at the end of the day
  • Engaging in self-care activities, such as hobbies that have nothing to do with our jobs
  • Maintaining a good support network and leaning on those who are there for us
  • Seeing a counselor regularly

The Unique Traumas First Responders Face

Many first responders will encounter extremely traumatizing events. They will frequently be confronted with the serious injury and even death of others. These situations can cause lasting psychological trauma for them.

That is why SAMHSA provides resources for first responders. In Its publication, First Responders: Behavioral Health Concerns, Emergency Response, and Trauma, SAMHSA addresses the traumas that first responders face. Knowing what stressors they will encounter is critical to developing good coping strategies.

Finding Healing From Facing Trauma

Finding the right coping skills is crucial to living one’s life while facing trauma. Traumatic events can be shocking, terrifying, and often dangerous in the case of first responders.

In the line of work that first responders engage in, it is critical to know the warning signs of trauma that may develop. People who see traumatic events regularly may develop anxiety or anger issues. Their worldview may be shaped by the disasters they face, and they may falsely believe that the world is worse than it is.

Fortunately, researchers and counselors have put forth a few strategies that may be useful for first responders who are facing trauma. If you or someone you know begins developing poor mental health, encourage them to try the following strategies:

  • Seek social support when you are feeling down.
  • Engage in self-care routines.
  • Talk to your counselor and care team.

Choosing Positive Outlets When Dealing With Stress

At First Steps Recovery, we recognize that first responders face unique challenges in their line of work. That is why we offer a range of treatment options that meet the ever-changing needs of these everyday heroes.

We know that it is important to emphasize positive coping mechanisms with the stressors first responders face. Our programs help first responders manage stress through therapeutic outlets, support groups, self-care routines, and coping strategies.

Even when it seems like every day is just one disaster after another, we can help first responders find the light and joy in healing. When people find healthy ways of processing the traumas they face, they can become more resilient in the face of them.

When Treatment Is Right for You

First responders are the everyday heroes of our world, and they are often also the unsung heroes of our society. Most of us do not see the important work they do. Many of us would not want to.

It takes a unique and special person to put their life and well-being on the line to help others daily. That is why First Steps Recovery works so hard to help first responders cope with their unique traumas. It is our way of giving back to them for all they do for us.

When first responders go out and do their jobs every day, their work presents them with extraordinary challenges. If you are a first responder, every day and in every way you impact the lives of others with your bravery and sacrifice. First Steps Recovery is committed to providing first responders with the mental health care they need to live happy and successful lives while doing their important work. We know that stress can take its toll on emergency services workers, and we can help. Understanding how trauma affects you can help you to develop effective coping strategies and allow you to heal. Call us today at (844) 489-0836 and find out what we can do to help.

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