Rescuing the Rescuers
April 15, 2022 - Tyler Dineen
IAEP Members and CISM Instructor, Paul Jockimo
You knew "what you signed up for" when you took the job, but did you ever think about what it might cost? It is well known that first responders of all professions respond to and see horrific things. It is usually only on the worst day of their lives that people call for help. And who is summoned? Not superheroes. Not robots. It is us, first responders, who are in turn people, just like the one calling for help. How much can our minds tolerate before it stops being able to process what we as both first responders and human beings deal with and see daily, sometimes several times in a single day?
As studies are being done, it has been proven that first responders are now more likely to ask for help when they need someone to talk to, someone to listen to them, someone to let them know "it is okay to not be okay," than in the last several years. For an extended period of time, it was not viewed as “acceptable” to reach out for help. You were seen as weak, or told you were not meant for this job. How was this ever a tolerable attitude? A lack of education is partially to blame. We now have the tools and education to offer this assistance when it is needed. But how do we educate our peers, who are like our family, that it is beyond acceptable to ask for help?
Empress EMS has never had a strong and viable peer support team. Sure, there was supervisors and co-workers who would reach out if they knew you were on a crappy call, or who would even reach out to the region's peer support team for advice. But our members, who are our second family, truly have not had a trained support team to be there for them, when in need.
When the training opportunity arose, IAEP Local-20 did not hesitate to offer sponsorships to those interested in receiving training and education in Critical Incident Stress Management! At the beginning of April, nine Local-20 members went through two long days of training to improve our understanding of what stress is, learn to recognizing the signs of stress, and of course, how to properly help our own when they are in need. In conjunction with the Local-20, and the members who went through the CISM training, we recognized the need for a formal support team that is properly trained to be at the disposal of our fellow colleagues. I am sure I speak for the rest of the members who attended this training, that because of the amazing experience and education this training provided, we are on the right path to having a great support team at the disposal of our members, and that we would recommend this training to anyone, and everyone!
Let’s make it known that it is okay to not be okay. No one should ever feel that they cannot reach out. We all have our own battles we have to fight, but why don’t we fight the ones that we can, together! Sometimes the rescuer just needs a little saving, themselves.