We often hear the phrases, “They run towards danger when everyone else is running away,” “They put their lives on the line every day,” “They saved my child’s life.” These statements are true of all first responders. They are the ones who devote their lives to saving others. They are the ones who are first to respond on scene to tragic accidents, assaults, murders, search and rescue operations, and other major crimes.
Once they have completed a call, they get another one and move on. There is no real time to process what they have seen, witnessed and heard. They take these images home with them and are left to process them on their own.
Many first responders find that over time they are not able to sleep or function normally through the day, and are haunted by nightmares and flashbacks.
Unfortunately there is still a large stigma around PTSD and first responders. Many do not feel that they have support of their colleagues or of their superiors and therefore they suffer in silence. They may feel that they are supposed to be strong and do not report the symptoms they are facing. They may feel like these symptoms will subside and they suppress their thoughts and feelings until they reach a boiling point. They may feel like if they come forward, they will be ridiculed or will lose their job.