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Supporter Here.....looking For Insight, Fire Service

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by Amack, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    I am surprised to see so little first responders here.......But thought I would ask anyway.

    I realize comradery at the station is vital. I appreciate that and know safety and trust must be there for a successful career in the fire service. But what has happened in my particular situation is a hiding of particular PTSD signs.... I know they MUST see what we see at home. I know they do bc at his old station they finally contacted me when he was out of control and the major said he would no longer cover for him. (Back story, this was 5 years of untreated PTSD that lead to all kinds of messes and finally involved the major. So, he went to short-term treatment came out "ok"....did counseling for a couple of months and took 3 months off and just now returned.) They moved him to a new station a busier one actually and he is displaying symptoms. I know PTSD is finally being looked at within the first responder community. How do you reach out as a spouse without jeopardizing his reputation or him hating you? He really isn't well and I can not handle another 2 years of what transpired these last 2....

    Also, How is it he can go to work be capable of doing what he does take care of station life and come home and either rage, avoid, hypervigilance...etc. How can he turn off those for work?

    Thanks for any input........that last part has been a question in my head for some time..........I appreciate any and all responses
     
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  3. brokenEMT

    brokenEMT Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, ptsd doesn't work that way. If it did, all of us would just turn it off for all situations (not just work). Symptoms can be managed, though, and coping skills can be learned. What help is he currently receiving?

    Unless his station is contacting you regarding his behaviors, I wouldn't recommend contacting them. That would likely cause issues between you and him, and between him & his employer.

    They probably see something, but they may or may not suspect ptsd. If they suspect/know that he's incapable of performing his duties safely, they likely have a duty to respond to that.

    I'm not sure what resources are available in your area, but you could try a crisis line, doctor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist for advice. Does he still have access to the 'short term help' he had previously? You're not in Canada but you could also look at Tema Conter (www.tama.ca).
     
  4. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    Yea, no not in Canada.
    I agree and that is why I have always stayed out of his job situation and not called but, the chaplain has asked me to inform him if he "gets" bad again. I won't. I was simply wondering how he is doing well at work and comes home and is a wreck. His last major, of course, noticed the change. Unfortunately, this new station does not have a history pre-PTSD struggles. I have to believe if someone was on leave for PTSD surely other Majors know when they receive a corporal that has had PTSD...? I just do NOT understand the protocol. It does not seem to be in favor of the suffering......... and makes me frustrated.

    Resources are slim! Everything and every therapist except one I have researched and found for him. The city acknowledges PTSD but is very limited thus far with resources. We have had to go out of state for the best treatment centers. I should add he has a co-occurring addiction with his PTSD.

    I will look at the that!! I am trying anything at this point, our last two years were pure HELL......and if I could help him avoid that I will do what needs to be done.......
     
  5. brokenEMT

    brokenEMT Well-Known Member

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    If the chaplain has been involved previously, he might be a good person to talk to again.

    He may or may not be doing well at work. It may also be that he's using all his energy at work, and has nothing left to draw on at the end of the day.

    Not necessarily.... my employer doesn't have access to my information, so when I transferred this month, no one in my new division knew about my history. They won't know unless I tell them (I won't).

    Some services have an employee & family assistance program, or other programs to help employees without threat of job loss. If he has a union, they may be able to help him access whatever resources are available.

    How did he do after the short term help? Was he able to help himself when stressed or triggered?
     
  6. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    He did alright. The treatment was cut short due to him receiving an award from our city which he deserved but also should have gone back in after having received it. It was all very political at that point. He still says he is not sure he has PTSD. This stems from his paternal family mostly because his brother is a FF and has never struggled (which he has but the whole family is screwed up that is a whole can of worms)........so yea, there is that.

    Anyway, Chaplain is a shmuck really, and I am not and my FF is not on board with him. He has betrayed a couple of FF buddies with sharing confidential information of others...so he is not my favorite.

    Good to know that. I bet that they do not necessarily share that either, the former knowledge of PTSD. Makes sense.

    He is in a Union. They are developing a specific Fire Fighter treatment only facility to open this year. I think this is wonderful. Maybe, he will go? But it is short term from what I read....6 weeks. That IS WAY too short for their field. At least from what I have experienced.

    I sound negative. I am not naturally. I am super frustrated with this line of work and the lack of help in our community. He is ultimately responsible for his treatment in my opinion and he knows his diagnosis. I am trying to survive his line of work meanwhile........

    Thank you for your input and I hope you can continue to receive help!!! All of you first responders are heroes no matter what you say!!! you see what we never have to.
     
  7. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    and.....that makes perfect sense that he expends all his energies at work to maintain. Thank you for that perspective.
     
  8. brokenEMT

    brokenEMT Well-Known Member

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    Your feelings are valid too... I can't even imagine being a supporter of someone on the ptsd rollercoaster. I think supporters are heroes too :)

    You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink :banghead:.

    If he can't/won't seek therapy, maybe he could join a ptsd forum? ;)
     
    J'qel likes this.
  9. brokenEMT

    brokenEMT Well-Known Member

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    Insight from personal experience :O_o:
     
  10. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    I wish he would. After 5 years I kind of stopped suggesting this or that for him. Sad to say.

    Funny you said that...MY aunt has said that exact phrase since I was 19 (lost my mom early) and has said it a time or two since.......(the horse)

    I understand...... IT is NOT a line of work very many understand or appreciate or hell even thinks about often. But having lived it for 16 years, I get it. I respect it. First responders are like no other people but, you have to take care of you to take care of others.

    Please continue to take care of you!!!! Again, Thank you for your response:)
     
    brokenEMT likes this.
  11. Never_falter

    Never_falter Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Amack and Ronin like this.
  12. Florian7051

    Florian7051 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I am a firefighter, rather I was a firefighter; I'm retired. In the beginning stages of my PTSD I was able to hide it at work, or "turn it off" as you put it. It was easy to sink into the job because I was passionate about it. There was no fooling my wife though; she knew there was something wrong with me. My symptoms eroded our marriage, our friendship, our well being, util we were in such a pit of despair it didn't seem like there was any way out. My wife opted suicide as that was the only foreseeable solution to our problem; I was the first responder on that call. She overdosed on a month's supply of benzos. Luckily the paramedic was brilliant because I was a bumbling idiot; I didn't remember anything they taught me in EMT school. The medic kept her alive until we reached the hospital and the ER doc stabilized her. Within a month I would find myself responding once again to my house only this time on my daughter who crushed her skull. Doctors didn't think she would survive and she was moved quickly to a children's trauma unit about 4 hours from our home. We didn't even have money in our pockets or gas in our cars to get there to meet her; we had to rely on a chaplain who gave us money to put gas in our car just so we could meet her up there. Where was my command through all of this? Not 1 phone call: "hey is she OK?" "Do you need anything?" nothing! Instead when I returned home after many many days in the trauma unit I had a social worker waiting on my front doorstep wanting to investigate me for child abuse. My command had turned me over for investigation WTF?!?! So I am very familiar of how cold and calculating the command structure can be. After these two incidents my PTSD symptoms were no longer able to be masked at work. I started f*cking up on a regular basis. Taking unwarranted risks, getting in fights (actual physical knock down drag out fist fights), just basically pushing the envelope at every turn.

    Everything culminated one day on my way home from work. I always carried a med bag, extrication gloves, and a crash ax in my truck in case I came across a motor vehicle accident. Well, there was an access road to my house that everyone use to use to blow past a red light on the main road; the thing is it would block up the access road for the people trying to use it for what it was intended for. One day I just lost my shit. I saw someone using the access road to blow the red light and I blew past them in my truck, stopped in front of them, grabbed the crash ax out of my truck, and got out. I dragged the guy out of his car and laid him on the hood of his car and put the crash ax to his head. The only thing that kept me from swinging is he had a little lap dog in the front seat that was barking. That snapped me out of it. That day I went home, and turned myself over to a mental hospital for treatment.

    I don't know what my point of telling you all this is, except that maybe I understand what it's like to be lost down the rabbit hole. I understand what it's like in the firehouse to have PTSD and be fearful of you job that every step you take may be your last. I understand what it's like to feel like your holding things together but in actuality you're just slowly descending. But most of all that I'm here for you as you go through this, and if I can help in any way or if you have any questions, or maybe if you just need someone to vent to, then you don't have to feel so alone.

    I hope this helped a little bit
     
    kddemt, tlc, J'qel and 2 others like this.
  13. Amack

    Amack Active Member

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    @Florian7051 Thank you for sharing that. I am sure it is unpleasant to even talk about some of those moments. I appreciate your candid response. I find most people really do not have a clue what all FF's see on a daily shift and then are unfortunately ignorant enough to ask what is the worst call. I hope you are doing well now. I know it's almost clicheè to say but I have learned through all of this and many workshops talking does help first responders. It seems the protocol falls a bit short, though. I know my FF has a Psych. come in after "difficult calls" but only for a very short period and that is if the others even act like they need one. Its a messed up system in my opinion. Anyway, that is a bit of my soapbox rant.....

    He is talking with a therapist again as of two weeks and has already had a devasting call. I would love for him to retire but as you noted about being passionate he is as well. He can not imagine doing anything else. So there is that. Love/Hate job relationship. I know he circling the rabbit hole again, and I am praying he does not go any further. But as a spouse, it feels like the deck is so stacked against us. I am a very optimistic person by nature but this feels so overwhelming at times. Thankfully, we have great counselors at hand. I know my part in all of this but most days I am sure I screw it all up......

    one question if I may.....Looking back, did you know you probably should retire or do something else? Or, was it really never an option? I find most FF that have made it past 10-14 years really can not fathom any other job. It is a very different job, or a call really, that is what I say...

    and, this helped tremendously one thing SERIOUSLY, lacking in our situation also is the Fire department love.. no groups for wives of PTSD, no groups for FF with PTSD, no calls (unless, he is really messing up)....... One of the best Majors he has had was struggling with PTSD and his wife told me she had no clue what was wrong and no help 27 years ago, he also checked himself into a mental hospital. She encouraged me when ready to do something.....I am thinking "HA, LOL, You do not want me leading up anything for the fire department right now..I can not stand them!!" So we sound like we are in the same boat as far as no help..!!! This site has been a godsend just wish he would utilize it....

    again, THANKS
     
    tlc and J'qel like this.
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