by Bob Rabe
A college professor once asked the class, “How heavy is a glass of water?” The professor received several answers, but the professor replied, “The weight doesn’t matter, it depends on how long you try to hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes. That is, until you put it down and rest.”
Stress is the same way. If we carry stress, especially after a critical incident, the stress can become increasingly heavy, if not dealt with properly. The stress may lead to a crisis.
According to the Chinese symbol for crisis, it is made up from two other symbols, which are danger and opportunity. We can collapse under the weight of the crisis (danger), or we can learn to develop new skills (opportunity), to meet it head on. Continue reading “Crisis as Opportunity – Critical Incident Stress Management”
by Ross Beckley
One of the darker and more difficult days I have had to endure in my career was attending “Shadowland”.
Located in the middle of an industrial area in the heart of a major city, surrounded by a high security fence, the building is an older style warehouse with no signage. It appears to be unoccupied as there are no workers’ cars or signs of life.
The building is brick façade and steel roof with brick walls about 8 foot high around the entire building. Two sets of high galvanized, colourbond doors that open from the middle are visible. There is broken asphalt leading to the doors where trucks unloading their cargo have torn up the pavement. Continue reading “Shadowland”
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Reverend D. Dean Young
Senior Chaplain and President
Pinellas Chaplains’ Association Inc
The day had been a pleasant one, I had spent it with my family preparing for Christmas festivities. I was holding my youngest son when the alert went off. It said: Signal 7, PD/EMS Involvement, veh vs mc, engulfed in flames. The location was in my response area.
I found my wife, and as calmly as one can be after reading that, I said I had to go. She knows the call can come at any time. She smiled and said, “Be safe, I love you”.
I dressed in my gear as fast as I could and headed toward the scene. I wondered what this scene was going to look like when I got there. Being a Chaplain, I often get very little information before arrival at a scene. This time the information I got was rather accurate, except for PD Involvement which, thankfully, there was none. Continue reading “Living Someone Else’s Worst Day”
by Robert Cubby
Christmas 2016. This was my first Christmas without my wife who died November 1, 2016. Trying to prepare myself for that reality was difficult. I tried to juggle putting on a “happy” face for my sons and family while, at the same time, trying to remain as upbeat as I could and avoid the demons of despair, loneliness and emptiness. They are very good at what they are capable of doing, sneaky in their attacks and looming around just waiting for me to be most vulnerable. Once they attack, there is a prolonged period of recovery. Most of the time, I feel them coming and scream at them to just leave me alone.
These demons are not new to me. We’re old enemies. They tried to take over my life when I was suffering from PTSD. After 38 years of attacking me, they succeeded in breaking down my defenses. One thing I learned in “recovery” was that I’d have to reinvent myself, that the old life I lived no longer exists, and that a new me was born. During that recovery process, I had to get used to, and be re-acquainted with, the new me. Not an easy task reinventing yourself. I liked the old me and wanted to go back to him. But he died in that shoot out, died from PTSD. Continue reading “First Christmas”
by Joye Atkinson
Unless you have walked in my shoes don’t say you understand
If you’ve never fought a battle in a foreign land
There are no words that can describe the hell we went through
Yet we remained on the battlefield to defend this land for you
We were taught to shoot and kill the enemy on sight
And to keep our eyes wide open especially at night
Now that we are back from war it’s hard for us to cope
So many of us just give up as we feel there is no hope
We ask you to please help us and our message heed
Please make it possible for us to get the help we need
by Jane Moore
Holiday time can be stressful for many people, and when the stress and anxiety turn to depression and suicidal thoughts, it can be difficult to reach out for help. So many of us feel low around the holidays but are afraid of being a burden to others, yet that connection is so important during this time. That’s why it is imperative to know healthy ways to battle stress and anxiety as well as the best ways to prevent those feelings and keep them from being overwhelming.
Between shopping for gifts, finding time to spend with family, cooking, cleaning, and fitting in work and/or school, the holidays are hard on anxiety sufferers. The best way to combat the negative feelings and stress is to plan well, treat yourself with kindness, and surround yourself with supportive people. Here are a few tips on how to do just that. Continue reading “How To Combat Holiday-Related Stress And Depression”
by Veronique Moseley
Editor’s Comment: This is a MUST READ for every public safety and emergency service family!
Ross and I work hard on our project Behind The Seen in the area of prevention of mental health issues among emergency services workers.
We have been told many times that our sessions, our Facebook messages, our articles and conference presentations provide HOPE. Much of our life is an open book, but until last month, the chapters were always somewhat edited to remove high emotional content. That’s been done to avoid triggering others and to provide consistency in our messages when advocating changes to mental health support for emergency services.
Last month, hundreds of followers saw the raw version of Ross during an episode. Mask off. The posting of his text and a video filled with anger and indignation, but more significantly, a deep pain he has not previously expressed publicly that caused a tidal wave of concern and support. Thank you to all those who responded with care: as you read my reflections below you will understand the significant value of genuine support. Continue reading “Emergency Services PTSD and Breach Of Trust – A Partner’s View”
by an Anonymous Dispatcher
At one time or another, anyone who has worked in Emergency Services for more than a few months will get asked, what was your worst call? This is a question we hate after being asked the first time. How do you quantify and qualify “the worst?” Does “the worst” have specific requirements for people asking the question? My “worst” and your “worst” could have two totally different definitions. Should it be based on number of people injured or killed ? How about extent of injuries? Or what about what could possibly motivate people to do some of the heinous things they do?
Time and time again dispatchers get dismissed because they don’t respond to the scene and see the wreckage of the calls they handle. They are being told that what we hear “isn’t that bad”…we should be able to handle any and everything without it impacting us. I would love to find a human being that can listen to what we hear and not be impacted. A mother discovering their baby dead due to no fault of her own. Hearing the sound a parent makes when the one thing they love more than themselves is gone and there is nothing they can do. Continue reading “What Was Your Worst Call?”