What if the world looked at first responders like we looked at military veterans?

Without discrediting our military’s veterans, they deserve much more credit and attention than they are being given. I think it is discussing every time I see a veteran who has been left homeless. These individuals put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and our constitution. Then for them to be just thrown into the world with limited if any assistance. I have never been in the military, so I can not speak of why these men and women are just “left behind.”

I was in public safety for over 30 years. When I first got into being a firefighter and an EMT. We where given training on how to assist people in a medical emergency and with a traumatic injury. We never once had any initial training on taking care of ourselves mentally. That maybe because it was not really looked at like it is today. Mental illness in the public safety profession is starting to finally get recognized.

Here are some brief stats for developing PTSD related symptoms.

  • General Public = 6%
  • Vietnam Veterans = 30%
  • Gulf War Veterans = 10%
  • Iraq War Veterans = 14%
  • EMS Providers = 15%
  • Rescue Teams = 13%
  • Firefighter = 7%
  • Police Officers = 5%

These stats just give you a small look at the percentages. There are a number of variations that need to be considered. Some veterans become police officers or firefighters. As well as an increasing number of firefighters are being required to fill the role as a paramedic or EMT. So these numbers are not totally accurate, but at least give you an idea.

So What If?

What if we started providing services for these people sooner in their career? Currently, public safety professionals can receive training and treatment for PTSD. Unfortunately what I have found is it usually comes after an event or not at all. It is human nature to avoid showing weakness, especially as a firefighter, police officer, or even a veteran. These individuals become masters at covering up their true feelings. We like to say during an incident “I was on auto pilot and don’t remember that part.”

This is when you may see the first signs of PTSD. What if we take that “auto pilot” mentality and turn it into the first warning sign? Too many good professionals have been told to “suck it up” just to late have increased symptoms.

These increase symptoms eventually exacerbate the true underlaying condition.

What If?

What if the people around us started to treat PTSD as a true condition?

What if things where different and these professionals would come forward if they needed help?

What if these professionals that need the assistance be able to recognize they are in need of help?

What if the supervisors of these professionals noticed they needed help?

I can tell you from my personal experience. If the people around me notice I was in trouble. I would still be working in a profession in which I still truly love.

Thanks for reading. If you are a brother, a sister, a spouse, or a colleague that recognizes someone may need help. Its always best to step forward and just ask that simple questions, “Are you Good?” It only take 1 incident to change the course of any great public safety professional.

Ken Kelli
Ken & Kelli

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