According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “PTSD can make people feel very nervous or ‘on edge’ all the time. Many feel startled very easily, have a hard time concentrating, or have problems sleeping well” (Association, 2016). These conditions make it hard for first responders to continue working resulting in “overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment to the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment” (Cigognani, 2009,
The experience leading to posttraumatic stress doesn’t have to last hours on end. In fact, the entire confrontation could last but a short thirty seconds. For many first responders in life-threatening situations, these few seconds can adversely affect the rest of their life (Willis, 2014). From that day or night on, the one affected will be plagued by sleepless nights, nightmares during the minimal hours of rest, and periodic anxiety attacks (Willis, 2014). In just thirty seconds, a well-trained first responder can go from being emotionally stable with a happy heart and life to having an unstable family, marriage, and have an inability to effectively perform many of his or her job duties. In just thirty seconds, one can develop a case of (undiagnosed) posttraumatic stress disorder (Willis, 2014).
PTSD’ is a mental illness, found most commonly effecting the mental state of individuals that have been exposed to confronting and/or traumatic events. Paramedics are people who in their everyday lives deal with low and high key events that can take a huge toll on their mental state ability. They are constantly sighting poor health and health conditions, trauma to another human, and the tragedy of death. (1)Despite being identified as a “high risk” occupational group, there is a lack of data concerning the prevalence of emotional problems among emergency ambulance personnel. The lack of data to support the PTSD levels of Paramedics is concerning especially when their work requires high level of concentration to perform precise procedures that
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, there were an array of confusion, anger, anxiety, fear, and hatred. Police officers and firefighters who responded to the events of 9/11 experienced delayed emotional reactions so they can accomplish their tasks. These first responders develop an ability to contain their emotions so they can deal with it later (Sauter & Carafano, 2012). Video images of two hijacked U.S. commercial airliners plowing into the twin towers were continuously replayed for days on local and national news outlets. The United States was put on the highest state of alert and all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies around the U.S. responded to the crisis. Many innocent lives were taken from the 9/11 incident
It is also known that “emotional baggage” can be carried far-past the career of first response personnel, some may fall victim quickly where others may show latent signs of suicidal tendencies or worse yet, become a public danger later in life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), diagnosed in first response personnel, is growing out of control (Reagan, 2015). The sad cost of losing even one person during or post-disaster is life altering, regardless if it is a disaster victim or a first responder, and it reflects poorly on supervisors and those ultimately in charge. First response personnel should save lives, not lose them or fall victim to the disaster itself.
Any time that the federal agency that responds to disaster events handles such situations there is likely to be a significant loss of life due to the disaster event. This makes a requirement that responders know how to deal with the psychological issues and challenges that are present. It is reported that mental and behavioral health, "in the context of disasters and emergencies, include a wide range of interrelated factors psychological (emotional, cognitive, behavioral), psychological and social that influence people's ability to cope with and recover from extreme situations." (Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Biodefense Science Board, 2010, p.4) Stated as examples of such issues are those of "fear and anxiety resulting from safety concerns, the death of loved ones, separation from family members and uncertainty as to their fate, and loss of homes and possessions; noncompliance with government directives resulting from loss of confidence in authorities; breakdown in community social
When it comes to first responders which include, police, firefighters, medics, and other emergency response members are twice as more likely to be exposed to traumatic events than the general population. Most firefighters can recall at least three incidents that play over and over in their mind. Imagine getting a call where dispatch comes over and says there’s a report of a car that hit a light pole and the car is fully engulfed and someone is trapped inside. No matter what you do you don’t seem like you can get there fast enough. Upon arrival you find a vehicle wrapped around a light pole with a 16 year old girl dead on arrival and still stuck inside and you have to cut the vehicle apart to get her out. After the adrenaline is gone and they
The final stage in the emergency management program developed and implemented by the Los Angeles Unified School District is represented by the recovery. This phase occurs in the aftermath of the crisis situation and it is focused on helping the community to be restored to the standards that were existent before the emergency, or even higher standards, if this is a possibility.
An often-overlooked risk that indirectly affects first responders is psychological stress. Exposure to a wide range of victims in various states of medical need, as well as the long hours and stress of various unknown hazards can take a toll on mental health. “Stress could affect responders’ judgment about their own health and safety” (Jackson et al, 2002). First responders may push themselves too hard or place themselves in further harm if they are under immense stress. Furthermore, the social stigma of psychological disorders can exacerbate the risk as many first responders may not seek treatment. Experts believe cases of psychological stress amongst first responders is grossly underreported and understudied hazard (Jackson et al, 2002).
An emergency manager takes on an extremely wide variety of roles and responsibilities, which are needed to be fulfilled in order to achieve an outcome of a secure and resilient Nation. Resilience, by definition according to the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8), refers to “the ability to adapt to changing conditions and withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies”. Resilience is built upon preparedness and the actions taken to plan, organize, equip, train, and exercise to perform all elements of emergency management. PPD-8 also states that preparedness requires the entire nations commitment. Resilience is a result of preparedness by the community as a whole. In order for an emergency manager to effectively perform
According to Waugh (2007), the biggest lesson learned was “the nation’s emergency management system is broken, and that officials need to rebuild local, state, and regional capacities to reduce hazards and respond to disasters” (4). After September 11, 2001, American emergency managers were
Lack of training and practice will induce the emergency response plans fail. It is not the suitable to rectify the emergency response procedure (ERP) flaws during an incident. In order to minimize the adverse effects of emergencies, training should be provided. This section is to be used for identifying the types of exercises and training for the employees. It is essential to provide training for the staffs of sewage utilities. This system specify the frequency of each training to be conducted, and who should receive the emergency response training. Moreover the system also identify the required training resources. The purpose of training is to:
Author Ronald Perry in Disaster Exercise Outcomes for Professional Emergency Personnel and Citizen Volunteers, focused on the importance of understanding the effects of disaster management exercises on various groups. Throughout his article it was clear that the perceptions of participants varied parallel to the success rate of the groups involved in the exercise. With each successful completion of an exercise the confidence of all group members increased improving relations within the teams, across multiple agencies, with the public.
To identify three principles in emergency management as being more important than others would take away years of research and evolution of current emergency management operating procedures. If I were to pick just three, it would be the ability to be comprehensive, progressive, and flexible. Being able to consider and actively take into account all phases, stakeholder, hazards, and impacts relevant to disasters allow emergency managers to be more successful in disaster mitigation and response. Being progressive is the ability to anticipate future crises and effectively produce prevention and preparation strategies, thus allowing managers and responders to construct disaster-resilient communities efficiently. The third important principle
Disasters provide an opportunity to explore their psychological effects on first responders, witnesses, and survivors. Each disaster had some, but not necessarily all, of the following effects. PTSD was the most frequently observed psychological symptom in each disaster discussed (Carol, Oliver, & Pandya, 2012). Those who survived Hurricane Floyd had experienced stress, irregular sleeping patterns, shock, and survivor’s guilt (Carol et al., 2012). Many of the survivors and responders of the Texas Explosions and Virginia Tech shootings experienced major depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and anxiety disorders (Carol et al., 2012).