How Do You Mentally Prepare?

March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is not a normal job.  Anyone who thinks that they can come into this line of work without preparing for what they will face and what they will deal with, is probably setting themselves up for failure. With the increased recognition of the mental impact of this job on firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, and police officers, we have really increased our attempts to prevent suicide and burnout. However, many of our attempts are reactionary. How many times have you been given a pamphlet or a number and been told to “call this if you have any problems”? We are ready to treat people AFTER they have issues, AFTER the incident, AFTER the ideal time to intervene.

One of the things I think that training academies, EMT classes, and departments need to begin integrating into their programs is resiliency training.

Resiliency, as it relates to psychology, refers to an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_resilience). In other words, it’s starting off mentally strong, so that when you are handed the call that is overwhelming you are already prepared for the impact it will have.  Resiliency teaches coping mechanisms so that as you experience the call, have the exposure, you are able to deal with it as it happens, instead of dealing with it ALL at one time.

Over the next few weeks I’m going provide information on mental health training for BEFORE the incident, DURING the incident, and AFTER the incident.

Until next time…stay safe and don’t forget to follow on twitter (@stickysidedwn).

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