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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder within the First Responder Community. Part II

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We recently had another interview, this time with Reggie Vickers, he is an EMS Coordinator out of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, and a County Representative for the Regional Trauma and Advisory Council, who has been in the industry just shy of 20 years. We spoke at some length and when I do these interviews, I try to focus on the person I am interviewing and the issues they face on a daily basis. For One, I want to find out what matters, and my other reason is I’m hoping that will cover up my lack of interviewing and writing experience.

This interview was held a few days after the horrific shooting in Dallas that took the lives of five officers. Of course our conversations started with these events and Reggie said it best “I am disappointed in my countries situation and in the behavior of my fellow Americans.” He was actually surprised some sort of retaliatory shooting hasn’t happened sooner within all of the venom and discourse being sewn about the Law Enforcement Community. He also mentioned the 2012, Webster N.Y. ambush shooting of four fire fighters, two of whom, who lost their lives, saying it wasn’t just the brothers in blue who have something to fear, and this point has been amplified with the recent random shoots fired at various Fire Fighters.

Reggie lives in an area that still gets along and so for him, as of now, these recent events aren’t the issues that hit home, unlike the heroin epidemic that has found its way to ski slopes and ranches he responds to calls at. The issue he faces is the mental health of his guys, they recently lost a fire fighter to suicide, so this issue is very real to him.

Reggie said “We are shovelers, we love to shovel stuff under the rug, we love to help people and we are great at seeing pain in others and trying to help, but we are really good at making sure, ours is buried.”

He continued “As a group we have had some bad incidents we had to deal with over the last couple of years, and have had varying degrees of success (sic), we used local mental health resources, to do group debriefings and group decompressing, individual mentoring etc.” Most recently, it was his stations ambulance who responded to their fellow firefighter who committed suicide, as you can imagine, it was a difficult experience.

We discussed our original Blog Post about PTSD and First Responders and how general awareness by the community, is still lacking. After some discussion we both agreed it would be a good idea to focus on this issue again.

I also want to point out that we are not trying to say “Oh those poor First Responders, pity them!”, we want to help raise awareness about an issue that affects a large portion of our Customers.

PTSD in the First Responder Community

First Responders see things on a daily basis, that would make us civilians go weak in the knees, and I for one would consistently lose my lunch while we are at it. While it may be part of their job, there’s no way they can be completely desensitized to it. The things they see, can lead to quite a bit of damage to their mental health, if left unchecked. From traumatic, heart wrenching, car accidents to intense, inferno like fires, it can be a very stressful environment. The macho bravado nature of these guys and girls is amazing, they throw themselves in harm’s way to save strangers, and one of the side effects of this Macho job is talking about your feelings makes you look weak.

Currently in the US, in some areas, there is a ton of frustration and anger towards First Responders and Law Enforcement personnel, and this makes it even more stressful and dangerous for the men and women just looking to help. First Responders act as a family, no matter where they’re from, so it effects each and every one of them to see each other in peril. If you were in an industry where the people you worked with were getting singled out and attacked, you’d probably feel like you were in a traumatic situation too. It’s easy to understand why mental health is suffering but it can be hard to know what to do.

Thankfully, there are more resources available for First Responders. The unfortunate part is that it is not widely available to the general community and the First Responder community tends to see getting help as a sign of weakness, a luxury they can’t afford. Most people in the medical industry don’t want to have to seek medical help for any mental illnesses and it can affect them even more.

PTSD Stigmas and Misconceptions

Sadly, one of the biggest stigma towards mental health leans towards PTSD sufferers. Many civilians view people with PTSD as dangerous, like they might “snap” and hurt someone at any time, even if the PTSD did not occur from a violent situation such as a combat veteran. This is a stigma that could easily be remedied if people were actually educated on what PTSD is and how to help their loved ones cope with it.

Someone with PTSD will not just suddenly go on a crazy killing spree, common symptoms are more along the lines of irritability, nightmares, triggers which cause flashbacks and panic, anxiety, depression, and change the way a person thinks. There is no sudden cure for PTSD as it is not the easiest mental illness to treat.

Having such a stigma surrounding victims of PTSD actually make it more dangerous and hard for people to get better. Instead of being afraid of someone with PTSD, just treat them like normal people, that’s what they truly need.

I know there are a million other points I could write about, however keep in mind, I am not a writer or blogger by trade, so this is still a new outlet for us here at Emergency Safety Supply. We just hope this helps someone out there.

Emergency Safety Supply

We aren’t here to just sell you stuff, we’re here to make a difference in the community. If you’d like to get notified when we release new Blog Posts, feel free to sign up for our Newsletter. We’ve got all the news from the First Responders’ world to keep you updated on current events and the troubles in the community.

At Emergency Safety Supply, we want to spread awareness about the inner workings and problems with the First Response community. From the abuse of the 911 system (which you can find out more in another post) to the mental health of the community, we want to help educate the public and hopefully in some way, help these brave and noble, Men and Women.

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Emergency Safety Supply provides EMS, Fire and Law Enforcement personnel and agencies, with the medical supplies and equipment they use, on a daily basis.

Founded by two best friends, we are a small, flexible and highly dynamic company, that uses the latest technology, to mitigate our overhead expenses. This allows us to offer our customers some of the lowest pricing in the industry. Our goal for offering highly competitive pricing, is it will allow these agencies to stretch their budgets farther, and save more lives.

We are always looking for ways to save you money on quality products. Find out what it’s like, when your supply company, works for you.

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