First Responder Post-Traumatic Stress

Most of us have heard quite a lot about post-traumatic stress and the distressing symptoms associated with it. A post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) can be caused by exposure to a traumatic event and like physical injuries, recovery is possible. Sadly, the stigma attached to both PTSD and PTSIs may cause first responders to put off or resist treatment and suffer in silence.

As Dr. Rachelle Zemlok points out, “As a first responder, you will see more misery and despair in your first few years in your career than most people will see in a lifetime.” While this is “not normal,” it’s also unavoidable.

Video: First Responder Post-traumatic Stress

There’s just no way to sidestep the fact that first responders are exposed to events and circumstances that can be violent, grisly or otherwise troubling. There are two important takeaways from this shift briefing video. First, public safety workers and their families (especially spouses and partners) need to be aware of the symptoms of this type of stress so they can recognize when help is needed. Second, if you experience distressing symptoms as a result of an incident at work, it’s critical that you get the care you need early to heal the injury and improve your quality of life.

If your agency subscribes to Lexipol’s Cordico wellness solution, you can get even more in-depth content from Dr. Zemlok and others on post-traumatic stress, mental wellness, and a host of other important topics.

Rachelle Zemlok, PsyD

Rachelle Zemlok, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in California, specializing in work with first responder families. She serves as the strategic wellness director at Lexipol, supporting the content and strategy related to first responder mental health and wellness, with a special focus on supporting spouses and family members through the Cordico Wellness App. Prior to joining Lexipol, Zemlok founded First Responder Family Psychology, which provides culturally competent therapy to first responders and their family members. She is the author of “The Firefighter Family Academy: A Guide to Educate & Prepare Spouses for the Career Ahead.”

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