First responders frequently suffer a traumatic injury. Whether from a single event or the cumulative impact of several events over time, most first responders don’t realize or recognize the impact. How should first responders cope with trauma?
A necessary approach to their life-saving work is: Do first, feel later. When drawing a weapon, running into a burning building, or treating victims of an accident, there’s no room for having normal human reactions. The constant deluge of tragedy eventually takes a toll. To keep the focus on the job, they sweep trauma under the rug, until there is no room left. One day it overflows.
The cumulative buildup of trauma may be expressed as a sudden outburst, breakdown, or a sense of overwhelming. Often, there is a feeling of failure, guilt, or shame. Without the right outlet for sharing or tools for dealing with emotions, it is not uncommon for first responders – just like every human who is silently suffering – to reach for something to numb the pain or put their attention elsewhere. A myriad of maladaptive and unhealthy behaviors can grow out of unrecognized trauma.
Read more at Promises Behavioral Health.