Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Signs Of Ptsd In Firefighters

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Protective Factors Against Ptsd

Alberta firefighter shares his experience with PTSD

Even though firefighters might be at high risk for stress as a result of their jobs, it is important to point out that most firefighters will not develop PTSD. In fact, several factors have been identified that may reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD among firefighters after the experience of multiple traumatic events.

One of the most important protective factors found was having social support available either at home or through work. In addition, it has also been found that having effective coping strategies available may lessen the impact of experiencing multiple traumatic events.

This is not surprising in that, among people in general, the availability of social support and effective coping strategies have consistently been found to reduce the risk of developing PTSD following a traumatic event.

The Homeland Security Act

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 defines a first responder as an individual who protects the life, evidence, property, or environment during the first stages of an emergency. Under this definition, firefighters, law enforcement, medical personnel, utility workers, and public health professionals all qualify as first responders. Some of the more common first responders include:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters

While they may have different titles, the duties of these first responder groups might be first aid, life support, mobilizing injured people for transport, and communicating with dispatchers and medical facilities about incoming patients. Because first responders are often the first at the scene of an emergency, they may be subject to incredibly stressful and traumatic situations.1 For this reason, first responders addiction treatment is critical and should be available to all first responders.

Addiction And Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Firefighters At Fountain Hills Recovery

At Fountain Hills Recovery, we know the stress and trauma firefighters go through. Thats why, as a way to support these courageous men and women, weve created a specialized rehabilitation program with first responders in mind. It focuses on treating the challenges and pain firefighters struggle with day in and day out, giving them the care and attention they need to heal.

Youve helped so many, now its our turn to return the favor. Begin your journey to recovery by contacting our friendly admissions team today at to get help for PTSD and substance addiction.

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Ptsd In First Responders

  • PTSD in First Responders

Biometric Telehealth: An Innovative Solution for First Responders with PTSD

Paramedics, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers are the first to respond to emergencies. The scene of critical incidents often involves exposure to life- threatening situations, frightening events, and stressful experiences. These experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder among first responders.

The most common symptoms of PTSD are nightmares and flashbacks of distressing events. PTSD can also cause physical symptoms such as chronic pain, sweating, jitteriness, headaches, dizziness, and chest pain. Other PTSD symptoms include irritability, angry outbursts, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating. 1

Because PTSD can cause such a wide range of symptoms, the treatment for this condition needs to be multi-pronged.

The biopsychosocial model practiced at the Institutes of Health is an evidence-based interdisciplinary program that helps first responders receive comprehensive treatment for PTSD. An alternative to on-site clinic care at IOH is our Biometric Telehealth platform, an advanced remote treatment solution that allows first responders to receive effective PTSD treatment in the comfort of their homes or elsewhere as needed. In this article, we will talk about the prevalence and consequences of PTSD in first responders and how biometric telehealth can help.

First Responders Behavioral Health And Drug Abuse

Rates of PTSD in Firefighters

First responders are the first people on the scenes of challenging, dangerous, and draining emergencies. Their job is to protect the populations health and make sure its national security is strong. First responders often witness or are exposed to death, grief, pain, loss, injury, threats to personal safety, long days of work, poor sleep, physical hardships, and other negative experiences.2

First responders have a difficult job in that theyre constantly exposed to disasters and traumatic events. Over time, the compounded experience of encountering disasters can take a toll on mental health that can lead to substance abuse disorders. Because of the stress of their jobs, behavioral health problems and substance abuse are commonly seen among this population. They should be treated with first responder counseling or first responders addiction treatment.

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The Firefighters Guide To Addiction And Mental Health Help

When a person spends the majority of their week responding to emergencies, putting out fires and rescuing people from near-death situations, that can have a mental health impact and may even trigger addiction issues. Whereas most people in this country have never had to make a life-or-death decision, firefighters routinely face high-stakes choices. If it is not another persons life that weighs in the balance, it is their own.

When your full-time responsibility is saving lives, it is not uncommon to carry that stress home to family. When you operate in crisis mode so much of the time, recognizing that each call may bring unknown dangers and life-threatening situations, you may begin to live all of life on high alert. You may have seen every manner of fire and catastrophe, so you know what can happen. That can give rise to anxiety and worry. Maybe you worry about your loved ones. Maybe you worry about your fellow firefighters. Maybe you worry about having to drag another dead body from a fire.

Governor Lamont Signs Law Proving Ptsd Coverage For Police And Firefighters

Extension in Coverage Recognizes the Impact Traumatic Events Can Have on First Responders

Governor Ned Lamont, joined by first responders and state lawmakers, today held a bill signing ceremony at Engine 10 of the Waterbury Fire Department to commemorate the adoption of a state law that will provide workers compensation benefits to police officers, parole officers, and firefighters who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing an unnerving event in the line of duty.

Previously, workers compensation covered mental health injuries only when they were sustained in conjunction with physical injuries. This law extends that coverage, recognizing that first responders in particular can be exposed to events on the job that can cause difficulty coping or adjusting for weeks and months at a time, sometimes leading to intense flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and depression.

Coverage will be available to police officers, parole officers, and firefighters who have experienced one of the following six events:

  • Witnessing the death of a person
  • Witnessing an injury that causes the death of a person shortly thereafter
  • Treating an injured person who dies shortly thereafter
  • Carrying an injured person who dies shortly thereafter
  • Viewing a deceased minor and
  • Witnessing an incident that causes a person to lose a body part, to suffer a loss of function, or that results in permanent disfigurement.

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Ptsd Treatments For Firefighters

Summarizing the primary treatments currently being used to treat firefighters experiencing PTSD

The FireRescue1 Academy features “Mental Health and Wellness for Firefighters,” a one-hour accredited course for firefighters. Complete the course to learn more about the mental health challenges firefighters face, the stigmas surrounding seeking mental health assistance, healthy strategies for handling stress, and the many mental health resources available to firefighters today. Visit the FireRescue1 Academy to learn more and to schedule an online demo.

Listen to this article on the Fair Reach Forum a firefighting podcast to inspire discussion.

The origins of post-traumatic stress disorder in a firefighters life are clearly defined. You have experienced a traumatic event or a series of events that is affecting your behavior in a negative way. You were witness to a traumatic event, and the experience is redefining your reaction to lifes challenges. And while you as a firefighter may not have experienced a traumatic event or their culmination, you know likely someone who has.

The Impact Of Ptsd On Firefighters

PTSD in Firefighters

The pressures of todays world can lead to mental health issues in any individual. The death of a loved one, divorce and financial challenges are only some of the most obvious stressors that affect peoples coping mechanisms in todays society.

Firefighters are a unique breed as they not only have to deal with the same issues as society in general, but also the fact that they are exposed to events that involve trauma, death and loss on a regular basis throughout their career. Being exposed to these events can have an effect on an individual over time and can compound significantly if they are not handled properly.

Unfortunately, fire service culture, which is built largely on the values of bravery and pride, prevents fire service members from asking for help when needed. Another significant barrier to firefighters receiving the proper treatment in these instances is that counselors provided through employee assistance and health programs often do not have an understanding of the fire service.

Occupational stress experienced by fire service members can lead to a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder . PTSD is a mental health condition that is commonly brought on by experiencing a traumatic or terrifying event. Signs and symptoms will normally surface within three months of an incident, but can take longer. It is brought on by a combination of:

Research has also shown that certain factors increase the odds for developing PTSD. Most prevalent are:

Symptoms of PTSD

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What Can Be Done To Help

The severity of these issues means it is imperative for departments to raise awareness about them. The earlier anyone suffering from these problems seeks treatment, the more effective it can be and the faster he or she can get back to 100%. Just as first responders watch each others backs in a dangerous situation, it takes everyone watching out for the earliest signs of stress and anxiety to keep their cohorts safe. Because one of the biggest obstacles to this is the stigma surrounding mental health, it is crucial for chiefs and other leaders to emphasize the importance of getting help as soon as possible.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy : Connecting Mind And Body

In the medical world of psychotherapy, excluding drug and electrical intervention, there is an umbrella treatment known as cognitive behavior therapy . In session visits, firefighters are open to various therapies moving toward a common goal. In straightforward terms, the objective of self-help through self-realization is accomplished by a direct visceral exposure to the problem or by mental reasoning, understanding and acceptance of what has transpired and why .

These two approaches can be further divided by length and type of treatment and emphasis areas, as well as different methods of providing mental and physical coping mechanisms. For firefighters, it boils down to basic therapies of mind and body, and their resulting strategies necessary to cope with PTSD.

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How Common Is Ptsd Among First Responders

More than 80 percent of first responders experience traumatic events on the job. 3 And because they face challenging and dangerous situations, first responders are at a high risk of developing PTSD as a work-related injury or condition. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , roughly 1 in 3 first responders develop PTSD. In comparison, the incidence of PTSD in the general population is 1 in 5 people.

According to one study, PTSD is present in approximately:

  • 15% of emergency personnel
  • 13% of rescue teams
  • 7% of firefighters
  • 5% of police officers

In absolute numbers, an estimated 400,000 first responders in America have at least some symptoms of PTSD. 3

What Can I Expect From The Biometric Telehealth Program

PTSD in First Responders: Know the Symptoms and How to Get Help

The immersive biometric telehealth program for first responders with PTSD is designed to provide treatment conveniently and privately. If you are unable to attend the program in clinic, you can access our expert team of clinicians, irrespective of your geographical location.

The Institutes of Health is an industry leader in Immersive Biometric Telehealth. We offer a full range of telehealth services including comprehensive chronic pain rehabilitation, medication management, treatment for brain injuries, sleep problems and neuropsychological evaluations. Talk to us today to learn more about our Biometric Telehealth platform for PTSD.

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Signs Of Ptsd In Firefighters

Its easy to fall into thinking that suffering from PTSD will be considered weak by colleagues, superiors and even loved ones. After all, youre supposed to be this strong hero that responds to trouble and protects others. But the truth is, anyone can fall victim to PTSD even a firefighter.

If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, its important to be familiar with the warning signs, so you can recognize it and ask for help. Some of these warning signs include:

  • Severe anxiety caused by reliving the traumatic experience in your mind.
  • A persistent feeling of being on edge, which can lead to outbursts and other severe mood swings.
  • Flashbacks and behaviors that lead to a feeling of reliving the trauma.
  • Having frequent distressing dreams or night terrors that negatively impact your sleep habits.
  • Being easily distracted from the task at hand due to memories, flashbacks and negative emotions associated with the truma.
  • If you recognize these signs of PTSD in yourself or someone you know, its time to seek help. We know it can be challenging to take that first step, but ignoring these warning signs can prove to be even more dangerous.

    Withdrawal From Social Activities

    One of the most common behavioral or social symptoms of substance use disorder is a withdrawal from social activities. If someone who often goes out with friends or attends social events all of a sudden stops going to those events, that should be a red flag. Even further, behavioral symptoms can impact personal relationships and isolate that individual from loved ones.

    The withdrawal from social activities can be difficult for loved ones to deal with. Watching someone go from constantly being around to completely changing their habits can be challenging to deal with. If any of the below signs are suspected, it may be time to find first responder mental health programs. Some of the social and behavioral warning signs of substance use disorders that should be watched for include:

    • Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, school.
    • Sudden changes in friends, favorite spots to hang out, and favorite hobbies.
    • Life begins to revolve around the use of the drug.
    • The individual abandons enjoyable activities that they used to participate in.
    • Suddenly getting into fights, accidents, illegal activities, or driving under the influence.12

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    Creating A Safer Environment

    BlowHard understands that creating the safest possible environment while on duty is essential for protecting firefighters physically and emotionally. Creating the most effective battery/electrical driven PPV fans available on the market is our commitment and our contribution to this all-important cause. When used properly, they can clear the air and make it easier and safer for crews to do their jobs. To learn more about our product line, check out our complete assortment.

    Ptsd Interferes With Ability To Regulate Emotions Causing Relationship Fallout

    Jacksonville firefighters open up about PTSD, suicide among first responders
    University of Houston
    The stress firefighters face takes a toll. New research finds that those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are likely to have relationship problems due to an inability to regulate emotions.

    For firefighters, every day can be an emergency, rushing into flames and disasters as others can only hope to rush out. And make no mistake, it takes a toll. Exposure to such traumatic events throughout their careers places these first responders at heightened risk for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder , and new research from the University of Houston First Responder Program, indicates that PTSD means trouble for their intimate relationships.

    “Individuals experiencing PTSD symptoms often experience interpersonal problems and relationship stress, and this may be due to emotion regulation difficulties,” reports Anka Vujanovic, associate professor of psychology and director of the UH First Responder Program and the Trauma and Stress Studies Center in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. “Negative alterations in cognition and mood were especially relevant to emotion regulation difficulties and relationship satisfaction.”

    “To our knowledge, no prior research has examined the role of emotion regulation difficulties in the association between PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction,” said Godfrey. “This study was the first to identify these associations among firefighters.”

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    Recognizing Ptsd In Fire Fighters: 5 Warning Signs

    Most fire fighters and paramedics are exposed to potentially traumatic events as a normal part of their jobs. Following certain bad calls, some may have a strong reaction. They replay the event in their minds, have difficulty sleeping or experience strong, upsetting thoughts and feelings.

    Help is possible, but only if fire fighters and paramedics recognize the signs of this condition and talk about them.

    Fortunately, the stigma associated with PTSD is fading. The worry about being perceived as weak is giving way to a growing concern about untreated PTSD and suicide. Fire fighters and paramedics with PTSD are finally coming out of the shadows, talking about their PTSD experience and getting help.

    So, as a fire fighter, paramedic, family member or friend, what can you do?

    Stress Inoculation Training: Understanding Coping Skills

    Digging deeper into the idea that the body reflects PTSD, stress inoculation training introduces the firefighter to techniques that directly influence the effects of the disorder producing a positive outcome. Breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, meditation, assertive training and an overall development of self-control and confidence serve to reduce the anxiety of trauma by commitment and repetition.

    While it is recognized that people react differently to traumatic events, focused skills central to improved attitude and behavior can be effectively applied in a wide range of cases.

    Medication can be extremely effective in helping first responders recover and regain a healthy balance

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