Handling Stress And Burnout As A First Responder

By Joseph Hunter, M.A.

The daily stress and constant exposure to life threatening situations that first responders encounter can lead to burnout. They also have to face the physical strain of working long hours and getting very little sleep. In addition to burnout, handling the pressures of the job can eventually lead to drug and alcohol use.

Burnout is a feeling of extreme exhaustion and being completely overwhelmed. Due to their exposure to distressing situations, first responders have a higher level of burnout and fatigue. Plus, those who work at disaster scenes can encounter a secondary traumatic process, which leads to flashbacks and PTSD.

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Debilitating Trauma… Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker?

By Safe Call Now’s Dr. Laura Brodie Ph.D.

As I work in treatment with individuals who have a reaction to trauma that is debilitating, I have found that there is a core issue that appears to be evident in many of these individuals.  That is the issue of a poor or absent support system prior to the trauma.  Many who I see afflicted with trauma worked as the strong support system for others prior to their emotional damage.  They report to me that they received little comfort from leaning on others for support.  They were seen as strong and capable so others assumed they could handle anything.  Giving guidance, support and help to others comes so naturally to these people, but being the person in need is many times the greatest fear. Why?

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First Responders & Medication… A Very Complicated Matter

By Sean Riley

Here’s something I see way too often when the public safety profession contacts the Safe Call Now 24 hour national hotline.  First responders being over prescribed medication or prescribed medication that may not be necessary for what they’re currently presenting medically.  Let me give you an example; In general when a first responder is exposed to a traumatic event it is common that they may feel depressed, anxious and unable to sleep.  They’re searching for answers to these problems and they pay a visit to their family physician.

Too often the first responders report to me that they are prescribed anti-depressants, sleep aids and benzodiazepines (something like Xanax) to deal with these issues.  I always say that when you are prescribed with this combination of prescription medications for an extended period of time (I refer to them as the “magic” three), at some point we at Safe Call Now will be dealing with you.  I see it happen every day.

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