Crisis Incident Stress Management: Helping first responders hand

Crisis Incident Stress Management: Helping first responders handle every day stresses

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First responders give aid to the injured, investigate murders and put out the flames. They deal with humanity at its worst, on a daily basis. 

"Historically we all think of ourselves as tough guys because it's what we do every day, so we deal with the violence, we deal with the tragedy's we deal with the terrible things that most people don't have to see every day," Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said. 

It's the sights, sounds, and feel that can impact a first responder.

"You know recovering a dead body or dealing with a cardiac arrest that where the person expires, you may be able to even though it's not normal, you can deal with it that's part of my job," Lubbock Fire Rescue Division Chief Steve Holland said. "You can get into a situation or see something that may trigger, like well I've got little kids at home and it could just be a minor deal a broken arm or something like that those little things get you thinking about things and start wearing on your mind a little bit."

"It's hard to guess how different incidents will hit people," Crisis Incident Stress Management Clinical Director Andy Young said. 

First responders debrief after traumatic incidents. Preventative medicine is an essential part of the process.

"Our job as the critical incident stress management team is to give officers a place where they can talk about incidents that bother them, usually we get called out on the real bad ones that it's obvious, oh yeah that would bother people, but also to the less obvious crimes," Young said.

"This isn't something a normal person should have to see and deal with every day, so we want those resources available to them so they can debrief properly and get past what they've had to deal with," Rowe said.

"Being able to sit down and talk to them like family and just say hey whats going on can we help if we can't do we need to help you get some help somewhere," Holland said.  "Recently even in Lubbock Fire Rescue, we've had four cases of people going to getting some professional help somewhere to help them get through this."

The conversations start early to prepare trainees and rookies for potentially distressing scenes.

"We go and speak at the academy try and hit people early," Young said. 

"Lubbock is a big city and we have stuff happening every day and so again it's us modernizing and making sure we let the tough guys know that they can reach out for help too," Rowe said.

Despite all the support, the day in day out dealings with the horrors of life takes a toll.  According to a survey by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, first responders are ten times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

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