Local, state, and federal fire departments each have unique roles in protecting our country from the devastation that a fire can bring to a community. Working in the fire service is usually a dream job. It is challenging, exciting, and colleagues become like a second family. There are times when one critical incident, or too many in row can change the way someone feels about their loved ones or this great career. It is tempting to think that work can be left at work and that family is not affected by what happens at the firehouse. The reverse is also false; home life stays at home and family does not affect the job. To be a strong firefighter means staying psychologically fit to manage home and work life stressors.
I see psychological fitness as a dynamic system made up of three parts that can change quickly; I compare it to the fire triangle. Three things must be present to have a fire: fuel, oxygen and heat or ignition source. Remove one, and the fire changes drastically.
Psychological fitness can be thought of as a triangle. If one thing such as behavior, thoughts or mood is changed, psychological fitness will also change.
If a paramedic or firefighter starts thinking “woulda, coulda, shoulda, or what if?” and then withdraws from other friends and family (behavior), she could experience the anger which accompanies these self-blaming thoughts. If she changes her isolation behavior to attending a debriefing then her peers could help her with a more realistic perspective (thoughts) on the situation. This could improve her mood.
Exercising on a regular basis, speaking to peer support members and attending critical incident stress debriefing can be healthy, helpful ways to stay on top of your game and keep a good perspective on the job and life in general.
Another option is to talk to a psychologist and get a different perspective on relationships, the future or current emotional discomfort.
Are you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Do you want to stop a situation from becoming any worse? Is this is the last time you want to feel this badly? Please consider making an appointment with me so that we can start to make a change in your life.
- I Love a Firefighter
- Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life After Deployment (APA Life Tools)
- The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms
- West Cost Post-Trauma Retreat
- There is an alternative to choir practice: Peace Officers Fellowship Meetings
- The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com provides the most accurate information for those affected by mesothelioma cancer including their average life expectancy, top doctors and treatment centers around the country.
- The Mesothelioma Group
- Stigma of medications
- IAFF Center of Excellence
- 5 signs your firefighter spouse has PTSD
- First Responder Culture: Meeting Cumulative Traumatic Stress with Resiliency! (Pg. 8)
- San Mateo County CISM Team
- Addicted to Awake: Sleep Deprivation in the Fire Service
How to choose a psychologist