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”→
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”→
Editor’s Note: It has been stated many times that first responders have a kinship with Vietnam Veterans. Why? Because, like these Vets, they are asking – no, demanding! – help in coping with the horrific images, nightmares, and the other mental and emotional casualties of their professions. Lewis Epright, Sr., a Vietnam Veteran and firefighter, has asked me to share these twelve steps that he and others have found invaluable in coping with their traumas. Thank you, Lewis, for your service and your friendship.
Step One (Power)
Our first step is to accept the fact that we have become powerless to live meaningful lives. Even though we had the power to survive against the worst combat conditions, we must admit we have become powerless to win the battle against a new enemy—our memories, flashbacks, and combat instincts. Some of us have become powerless over the continuing wish to gain revenge over those sudden impulses to hurt those who cross us or unsuspectingly annoy us. We even hurt those who try to love us, making it impossible to love and care for our friends and family. So we isolate ourselves and cause others to avoid, dislike, or even hate us. Our attempts to live meaningful lives and fight this psychological and emotional hell which imprisons us seems to be in vain. We now find ourselves powerless to change it. Continue reading “The Twelve-Step Approach to PTSD”→
Published on Jul 18, 2014
Dr Anna Baranowsky talks about the tragic suicides of police, EMS, military members and other care providers. Who is responsible and what needs to be done about it. She encourages wounded warriors everywhere to get help and know that you are not alone.
—– “What happens when we are not recovering after a traumatic event? Dr. Baranowsky explains trauma response and approaches for recovery. Over 85 % of people surveyed were exposed to trauma in their life time. Trauma is not unusual and the ability to recover is wired in our bodies. Sometimes we just need some guidance along the way.” Dr Anna Baranowsky
Recently, I saw an article about taking the uniforms of the military and turning them into Teddy Bears for the children of deceased military personnel. Something tangible to hug and hold that belonged to their Dad or Mom. I thought what a great idea. It reminded me of the program that the military is presently using called Combat Paper. The uniform is converted to paper with the same camo pattern the veterans wore. They were instructed to take that paper and convert it to a piece of art, cutting into it. The rational is to take something that may have painful memories due to PTSD and turn it into something of beauty. Along the same lines of reasoning, these Teddy Bears will turn a painful memory into something positive. This appealed to me since I suffer from PTSD from my police service.Continue reading “A Piece of Cloth”→
It is not unusual or abnormal for people in the emergency response community to experience many different emotions and feelings in their day-to-day lives. The traumatic calls they respond to are, at times, overwhelming. Research shows that many of these professionals experience nightmares, depression, substance abuse, or strained relationships with family members or friends as a result of recurring trauma and the grief it causes. Continue reading “Coping with the Death of a Child Patient”→