We need to start doing better. We need to learn how to support one another instead of tearing each other down. In a world where the only way out is through, it’s important to back up our brothers and sisters instead of pushing them out of the way to reach the top.
My name is Emily Agruss. I am a former military and fire wife. On September 9, 2016, my husband, Joshua Agruss, passed away following a fatal relapse of his addiction to prescription pain medication. Josh experienced a lot of trauma in his 33 years of life – much of it related to his time serving our country in Iraq and working as a firefighter and paramedic. The cultural norms of our society are currently placing a mostly negative stigma on the heroes of our nation not to seek help when they are struggling. As a direct result of this, my husband suffered in silence with symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress for many years. He never felt safe enough to ask for help. He lived in constant fear of being determined unfit for duty, being harassed for not being able to “suck it up” and from losing his job and the ability to help others – the one thing that got him out of bed each morning. This mentality is what is destroying the lives of countless individuals. It’s what is leaving thousands of spouses and children without a husband/wife and father/mother. Continue reading “For the Sake of Our Nation’s Heroes ~ A Widow’s Story”→
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.
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”→
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”→
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
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 Facebookmessages, 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”→
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?”→
There will come a day when your son or daughter will find that photo of you that we all have had taken when we joined or made Class “A” status or got promoted. You know the one where you look somewhat awkward with your hat tipped to far back and you weren’t sure if you were supposed to smile or not. Yeah, that one. It’s been a few years since anybody has looked at that picture. It got put away and buried deep in a closet in a box with some of the other stuff that you use to have on the mantle or hanging on the wall in the den. Maybe a few awards, old helmet, group shot of you and the crew.
Your child was younger back then, and never saw that stuff displayed. He or she is older now. Today, he finds that box, takes out the picture and looks at it intently. He takes a look at you. Then back to the picture of you in your class “A”. With a puzzled look, he turns to you and asks, “Daddy? When you used to be a fireman were you brave? And Daddy, how come you’re not a fireman anymore?” What will your answer be? Continue reading ““Daddy, were you brave? And how come you’re not a fireman anymore?””→