Emergency Responder Career Survival Tips

Being witness to a tragic death or horrible accident scene is almost certainly going to have lasting effects on anyone. It is important to realize that emergency responders, though noble and honorable in their professions, are not immune to these effects. We can no longer turn our backs and pretend that it does not affect us. With increased violence and short-staffed departments, it is more critical than ever to train emergency responders with coping skills and to learn the warning signs of emotional distress.

The Career of an Emergency Responder

It is the nature of the profession for emergency responders to have a higher than normal rate of exposure to horrific and traumatic experiences. In turn, they also have a higher rate of stress-related ailments, PTSD, relationship issues and addictive behaviors. Some studies have even shown suicide rates to be as much as 4X the rate of civilian suicides. At 2 The Rescue, we are dedicated to improving the safety of emergency responders through effective training and education. To survive a career in public safety, we must first recognize how repeated exposure to traumatic events can change an individual – both physically and mentally, sometimes to a devastating end.

The First Steps of Survival

Suicides directly related to the cumulative stress of a career in public safety are on the rise. We need to realize that even one distracted or unhealthy responder can affect the safety of an entire department as well as the community members it serves and protects. Thus, changing our mindset to be more preventative than responsive can have a positive effect throughout the profession – not only on helping to prevent suicide, but also in the safety of entire departments. The first step in doing this is to increase the awareness of department supervisors as well as each professional and their families on common triggers, coping skills and the warning signs of an unhealthy reaction to trauma. We should be training emotional survival with the same priority and urgency that we train for tactical survival.

A Modern Look at Training

Many existing training options are filled with outdated information and are taught using antiquated teaching tactics. Education methods in the 21st century are more focused on achieving higher retention rates through hands-on interaction. At 2 The Rescue, our classes combine hands-on exercises with field experienced instructors for effective training results. We work directly with agencies to design classroom and scenario-based training sessions in accordance with their needs, resources and guidelines in a variety of critical skill areas. Where applicable, we also open our classes not just to professionals working in the field, but their loved ones as well who are frequently affected as well.

Get Educated

In addition to course training, it is imperative for department supervisors and individuals alike, to get educated about stress, coping methods and warning signs of PTSD or suicide. Department leaders should take the time open doors of communication with their staff and be aware of any major personal changes that could serve as warning signs. These changes include relationships changes and divorce, financial struggles or bankruptcy, increased addictive behaviors, etc. It is highly unlikely that an individual struggling emotionally in this profession will seek help on their own, making it that much more imperative that we start to pay better attention to the emotional health of those around us and to provide support where we can. Providing alternative resources and secondary treatment options to on-staff counseling personnel can also help in the case of distrust or embarrassment.

At 2 The Rescue, we are dedicated to improving the safety of emergency responders. Contact us today to set up a customized Career Survival training course specific to your department’s needs.