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So, what works? what were you offered?

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by jael, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. jael

    jael Policy Enforcement Banned

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    @The Albatross
    From your last post it seems as though you are saying that high stress jobs are a choice and if you are prone to getting PTSD, then you should find a different career. The problem is, you don't find that out until it's too late. Until much time and money has been invested. Having the label of weak or unfit for service is wrong and frankly inaccurate. People with with work acquired stress disorders/depression/you name it, are not unable to do their job. They may be the best at it.

    The idea that it takes being a robot to perform your job is archaic. It is not normal and should not be a part of any work culture. The military is finally learning this decades too late.

    Lack of support and unrealistic expectations are what destroys people in high stress jobs.
     
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  3. TexCat

    TexCat Not a cat or a native Texan. Banned Donated

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    Ironically, this brings my thoughts back to teaching. It is high stress. To educate properly you give so much for so little compensation and are constantly fighting stupid policies, unreasonable administrators and parents that care too little or too much.
    This is why teacher burn out exists. Some of the most successful/best teachers I know change career paths after about 5 years of that high-stress lifestyle. This may be why it would be nice, ptsd aside, if both physical and mental health support would be encouraged and provided in all fields.
     
  4. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    @The Albatross I'm sorry - I didn't mean that to come out snarky! You are right about it being a fine line -- the ability to suck it up is considered part of the job description and it is burning out people right and left. Emergency services needs to find a way to keep their people healthy if they want to keep them working. I was lucky to have a job that offered a pension but most aren't. So its a double whammy. they burn them out by not caring and then employees have no options when they can no longer do the job
     
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  5. zebbidee

    zebbidee Active Member

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    @jael i work in a field where I go to crime scenes, including homicide scenes, often with victims bodies still present. I also attend at the mortuary to identify deceased which include those homicide victims, suicide, overdose, people who die alone and sometimes aren't found for months, accidents, drowning, mass casualty incidents/disasters etc. we have to physically handle the bodies for an extended period of time, no matter what the condition. on occasion I've done as many as 5 in a day. No one applying for my job is aware that mortuary is as regular part of the job as it can somtimes end up being. its just one of the duties, not the main job. In my initial training there was no mention of mental health whatsoever. No mandatory counselling. No debriefing. You just did it. If you couldn't handle the mortuary then you were pretty much told to go find another job. No one monitored the amount of exposure individuals were getting over time.

    Things are changing for the better, and there is now some recognition that our people might be impacted by our work. We have mental health & self-care presentations/workshops every now and then. Much better monitoring of how much exposure people are getting, and rating the impact on a software program. We have a psych unit (off site) but of course it up to us to seek out their help if we need it, and doing that carries much less stigma than in the past, thankfully.

    Over the years we have tried to get a mandatory periodic counseling program in place, and it was knocked back (I can't remember the reasoning given). I think that could really help some people who might otherwise be hesitant to reach out for help. those who don't need it could simply have a chat about the weather with the therapist and then go about their business. We have a peer support program in place. and generally awareness is increasing. still a long way to go though.
     
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  6. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    We tried this too - it always gets shut down when the money comes up. But its good to know its improving!
     
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  7. jael

    jael Policy Enforcement Banned

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    @zebbidee
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    I will be exposed to many of the same things that you have been.

    I recently learned that a therapist at the office I go to is attempting to pioneer support services to first responders. I appreciate that the efforts are being made. I'm hoping that employers are starting to catch on to the need for this.
     
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  8. zebbidee

    zebbidee Active Member

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    @jael yes, i hope employers do catch up. and its good to hear of therapists such as you mention who are recognizing the need. the thing is most people who go into these types of jobs are all gung-ho at the start, we all know we can 'handle' it, we are interested and passionate about what we do. we think we are impenetrable. that we can separate ourselves at all times, still have compassion but not be "impacted" by what we see. you have to think like that to get into this work. anyone who knows it will bother them, falls into the category of people who say "oooh i could never do what you do" and that is the majority of people that I speak to about my job.

    no one who gets into this type of work thinks its going to effect them, so zero precautions are taken to maintain that initial resiliency. over time it can get worn down, especially as the normal pressures and tragedies of life start to pile up on top of the work stuff.

    when i hear trainees be all cavalier and say things like "the gory stuff will never bother me, I grew up on a farm" (actual quote) I try to take them aside and let them know that we ALL said that when we first started but I guarantee everyone has a number of jobs that stick with them forever. of course, the degree to which they are impacted varies and for some its just "that job was really terrible, I'll never forget it" and for others its full blown PTSD.
     
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  9. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    We implemented a stress management training program for our 911 trainees several years ago. It started as a 30 minute class on how to reduce stress and moved to a 5 hour class that goes pretty in depth with what they will be facing, stress debriefings, different ways to combat stress, introduces them to their mentors , blah blah. It's been fairly successful and it's made it ok for the new people to feel their feelings. Our biggest challenge came from the older employees who came from the suck it up buttercup generation. They had a hard time accepting the "warm and squishy" addition to training.

    It's been a slow change -but it is changing. The saddest part is that my center is considered ground breaking in this because it is so rare that anyone, including us, see 911 as considered a stressful job.
     
  10. zebbidee

    zebbidee Active Member

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    That program sounds like a good start @Freida. Making it okay to feel their feelings is definitely a change in the right direction. I totally agree that it's the older generation who struggle with this. I think sometimes there's a feeling of "well I didn't get any help, support or training, and I'm okay, so why should they". And I think that can come from resentment. I totally understand how it must feel that 911 hasn't been recognised as a stressful/traumatic role. It shows a complete lack of understanding. We have a similar issue. Being mostly unsworn now in my unit, we have kind of slipped through the cracks, even as awareness of risk to police members in our organisation is generally increasing. But same as you said, things are getting better as more people become more comfortable discussing mental health, and accept it as a genuine oh&s concern.
     
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  11. jael

    jael Policy Enforcement Banned

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    @zebbidee
    I could've written your last post.
    Well said and thank you.
     
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  12. CdnCopper

    CdnCopper Active Member

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    My dept now has Critical Incident Stress Responders...peers that have gone through some nasty stuff, that will be sent to a scene that meets certain thresholds.

    They program is under the supervision of a psychologists and the group will just be on scene just to observe and make proactive interventions as they see fit. The group also with the psychologist will have mandatory debriefing, again for certain situations.

    It's a good start however it still misses about 99% of the crap that builds and results in ptsd. An officer/dispatcher may never be involved in one of those incidents that meets the "threshold" of mandatory intervention. The daily crap or suicides, sudden deaths, domestics, the chases, the "near" misses where you say to yourself, "holy crap, that was too close", go by the wayside and are missed.

    Sure its great to have resources for the "big ticket items" but the accumulation of the "small ticket items" that seem benign on the surface are going unnoticed and are being missed.

    As I said it's a start and if would be been nice to have those services available for my crap, but there is still room for a lot of improvement.
     
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  13. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    Its funny how sometimes its the more routine stuff that takes you down. I always told my trainees - if it bothers you it bothers you - it doesn't matter why. I could handle pursuits with shots fired and screaming moms with dead babies. But the first call that took me down was a very quiet call from a lady who died while I was on the phone. It hit on a personal trigger and poof! I was gone.

    It's good to hear that things are changing. Slowly, but changing
     
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