The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section has released the 2021 Yellow Ribbon Report Update: Best Practices in Behavioral Wellness for Emergency Responders.
The new document supplements the original (released in 2017) and is focused on educating all ranks of the fire and emergency services about risk factors that can lead to declining mental wellness, such as:
- Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
- Compassion fatigue.
- Acute stress disorder.
- Toxic work environments.
- Learned helplessness.
According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, more firefighters die from suicide each year than in the line of duty, and many suicides are likely unreported. This resource offers solutions and recommendations that can directly help firefighters and responders, including 7 approaches/tools referred to as lifesaving “antidotes” to measure and reduce stressors:
- Emotional intelligence.
- Positive intelligence.
- Relationship strengthening.
- Post-traumatic growth.
- Tools to measure and reduce stressors.
- Emotional tactical worksheet.
Each antidote in the report is supported by additional resources.
Also included in the report is a new set of 11 best practices to help normalize the mental health impacts of fire and emergency service vocations that department leaders can use to encourage a culture supporting mental wellness, establish impactful behavioral health programs and more. The “how-to” approach of the best practices is supplemented by implementation tips and a summary of survey results on what agencies have been doing to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their personnel’s behavioral wellness.
All fire departments and other responder agencies are encouraged to share this report with departmental leadership, including peer support team, chaplain and employee assistance program.