He said it was the worst call he had ever experienced. But it was also the best moment of Mike’s* career when help arrived to help him cope. Without warning, this firefighter was involved in a fatal traffic accident while responding to a medical aid. As Mike says, “I was helpless, there was no room to avoid the accident.”
First responders help ordinary citizens in extraordinary ways.
But who helps them?
In a recent article from the San Bernardino Sun, “For San Bernardino terror attack first responders, healing is ongoing,” officers commented on the support they received and the impact on their lives.
Some officers in this article said they appreciated the mental health services provided, on scene or through their EAP, while others said they prefer working with a Peer Support Team.
Suicide makes us uneasy.
It devastates family, friends and co-workers as they ask, “Why didn’t I see it? Why didn’t he say something, How could I have stopped it?”
Those who contemplate suicide generally feel that taking their life is the last option available that can ease their pain and suffering. Our best option to prevent suicide is to become familiar with the warnings signs, as we know them.
Severe physical wounds may heal eventually, but untreated psychological wounds can linger, or resurface if triggered. That’s the lesson firefighter/paramedic Ben Vernon learned when he survived a violent knife attack while on duty in June 2015. Ben developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and we detailed his ordeal in our March 7, 2016 blog post. He revealed that his screams, sweats and nightmares finally ended when he underwent Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an integrative psychotherapy that The Counseling Team International also provides.
He had contemplated suicide. After losing 19 comrades in the 2013 Yarnell fire, how was he to move forward? In his stirring presentation at the 2016 PSPSA Conference, wildland firefighter Brendan McDonough spoke openly about the burden he carried. So heavy were his memories of surviving the fire that he drove to an isolated area and prepared to shoot himself with the loaded gun he carried.