Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Trauma's Toll on First Responders


First responders put their lives on the line every day to help others in times of crisis. From law enforcement officers to paramedics, emergency dispatchers to military personnel, first responders come from all walks of life and undergo extensive training to be prepared for any emergency. However, the constant exposure to trauma and high-stress situations can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

Remember, PTSD can develop in anyone after experiencing a trauma. Trauma is defined as “actual or threatened exposure to death, serious injury, or sexual violence.”

While these professionals are trained to maintain emotional control in order to effectively aid victims, the weight of each trauma they experience adds up over time.

Think of it like carrying a backpack filled with rocks, with each rock representing a traumatic event. As these brave men and women progress through their careers, their load becomes heavier and more difficult to bear.

How much can someone carry?

The weight will be different for each individual, as is how much each individual is capable of carrying.

No two people will experience the same stressful or traumatic situation in the same way.

Our experiences and our ability to cope are as individual as we are, so trying to compare traumas is like comparing apples to sports cars.

That said, here are some facts:

       Over 80% of first responders regularly experience traumatic events while working.

       30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions including, but not limited to, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as compared to 20% in the general population.

       Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers are 1.39 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

       In law enforcement, the estimates suggest between 125 and 300 officers commit suicide every year.

Anyone can develop PTSD after experiencing a trauma.

For first responders, these traumas are a regular part of their job. And because their job title is “hero,” they often feel they can’t show weakness, fear, or shame because that would be admitting that they don’t have what it takes to do the job anymore.

It’s a false narrative. One that needs to be obliterated.

First responders need to be able to recognize when their work has begun to take a mental or physical toll. Seeking support and professional help is the key to starting the healing process. That’s not weakness. It’s the strongest thing a person can do.


If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

No comments:

Post a Comment