Kelly Grayson posted an incredible blog entry regarding the Newtown murders, For Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which I strongly encourage EVERYONE, not just emergency responders, to read. It is an insightful letter that I agree with 100%.
I have discussed “Sucking it up” in a previous post, and the PTSD that can occur in responders who have done this. Some overcome it and stay doing what they do, and for others, it was career ending when they (or their supervisors) realized that they were no longer capable of providing care in the field as a result of the psychological damage inflicted on them due to an extremely distressing call or calls. This rational of not dealing with the issue because, “shit happens”, even contributed to some committing suicide.
THIS SHOULD NEVER OCCUR. EVER.
Horrific things occur to people every day. Last Friday was yet another example of what one human being is capable of. It impacted people worldwide. What made this one more important than others? Could it be:
- That it was children that were killed, along with those we entrust them to during the day?
- That it occurred in a school, again, where we trust our children will be safe?
- The manner in which they were killed?
- That it was a mentally ill person that did this?
- That the children who lived through this saw and/or heard their classmates and teachers murdered?
- That there were police, EMS, and fire departments that responded who had to see this horror, and make those decisions that NONE OF US EVER WANTS TO HAVE TO MAKE?
- That it was all of that?
Part of our education involves emotional and pyschological well-being. How many of you paid attention that day in class? It was important material.
We, as a community of responders, need to ensure that all of our fellow responders who are exposed to traumatic incidents such as what occurred in Connecticut, what happen in our own communities such as when we respond to the horribly abused baby, the rape victim, the car accident that wipes out an entire family, get the assistance that they need. Don’t just assume that your fellow EMT, paramedic, firefighter, or police officer will get the help they need. Talk to them. Help them. They are our family.
If you are that person who has seen that horror out there we deal with, reach out to someone. There is no shame in having feelings. We all do. Yes, we have to shut them off when we are dealing with the incident, but we need to confront those feelings. Use your local agency chaplaincy, call your CISM/CISD representative, walk into a place of worship, talk to the psychologist or social worker at your local hospital, call a family member. Call the International Criticial Incidence Stress Foundation Emergency Hotline at 410-313-2473. Reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media site. There are many of us out there. We’ll help.