Working in the emergency services is exhausting. It doesn't matter if you work five days a week, three 24-hour shifts per week, one day per week or 12-hour days; being on the job as a firefighter, EMT, paramedic and police officer is exhausting. And when we say exhausting we are going for more than just one definition of the word.
Emergency services personnel can suffer physical exhaustion from a lack of sleep, poor eating habits, inability to exercise and much more. Personnel can also suffer emotional exhaustion from all that they see on the job. From fires to shootings to car crashes to abuse; emergency responders are called to the scene for just about every emergency imaginable and this takes a mental toll on everyone involved.
There's a longstanding notion that asking for help means that you are weak. This cannot be further from the truth. The strongest people out there are those who realize they have a problem and that they need help to fix that problem.
Suicide is an all too real problem in the emergency services. The job can be unbearable at times, but it doesn't mean that things can't change. There are good days, bad days, unbearable days and great days on the job in emergency services. These professions aren't for everyone and it doesn't mean you don't belong if you struggle with the mental aspect of the job. It just means that you need a little help dealing with those areas.
Emergency agencies across the country have programs in place for their personnel that handle emotional, psychological, and other personal issues. These programs are anonymous and just a phone call away. All you need to do is get up the courage to make that call. It could save your life.
Results from an ongoing study were released in September 2017 that show one in every four first responders suffers from depression or some form of mental health issue. The study is being conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Even more shocking numbers show that 18-37 percent of first responders fit the criteria used to determine post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On top of that, first responders are 25 times more likely to commit suicide compared to the general population of the United States.
Many first responders who took part in the study told researchers that they have trouble sleeping at night even after they retire from the job. They have trouble turning their brains off, running through the most unforgettable incidents from their careers.
If you are struggling with depression, feelings of sadness, guilt or stress do not hesitate to seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
The National Volunteer Fire Council operates a national helpline for firefighters and emergency medical responders. This helpline can be reached at 1-888-731-3473. As their website says, "Make the Call to Make Things Better."
Are you interested in our mission? Contact the Hunter's Heroes Foundation today to ask questions and find out how we are serving the community in honor of Lt. Christopher Hunter.