Firefighters' Mental Health

This drill is compliant with and supports the Safety Initiatives developed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. TOPIC: MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TIME REQUIRED: TWO HOURS MATERIALS: APPROPRIATE AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS...


This drill is compliant with and supports the Safety Initiatives developed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

TOPIC: MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

TIME REQUIRED: TWO HOURS

MATERIALS: APPROPRIATE AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS

REFERENCES: Fire Department Safety Officer, 1st ed., International Fire Service Training Association.

PREPARATION:

MOTIVATION: Mental as well as physical health are important elements to a firefighter being able to perform his or her duties. Actions that take place at an incident, in the station, or even outside the department can affect the mental well-being of firefighters. Early recognition and corrective action are vital to the safety of all personnel.

OBJECTIVE (SPO):

The firefighter will demonstrate a general knowledge of the mental health issues affecting the fire service, indicators of potential concerns, and corrective action options.

OVERVIEW:

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

   * Employee Issues

   * Recognition of Symptoms

   * Corrective Action Options

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

SPO: The firefighter will demonstrate a general knowledge of the mental health issues affecting the fire service, indicators of potential concerns, and corrective action options.

EO 1-1 Identify the employee mental health issues that may affect members of the fire service.

EO 1-2 Identify the signs and symptoms related to mental health concerns.

EO 1-3 Identify corrective action options for addressing mental health issues.

This drill should be conducted as an interactive since anyone can have mental health issues and fellow firefighters may be called upon to assist.

 

I. EMPLOYEE ISSUES (EO 1-1)

A. Physiological Stress

  1. More individual in nature and is created not only by work environment but also by total life

      experience

  2. Caused by work environment and created by following situations

      a. Sound of alert tone in quarters

      b. Shift work involving irregular schedules

      c. Lack of sleep or interrupted sleep cycles

     d. Loud noises (sirens, air horns, explosions, etc.)

     e. Station overcrowding

     f. Hazardous or toxic environments

     g. Exposure to extremes of heat and cold

     h. Long hours of physical exertion

     i. Carrying heavy personal protective equipment

     j. Fatigue

  3. Short list of psychological stressors

      a. Personality conflicts with co-workers

      b. Perceived lack of respect from managers, administration, or the public

      c. Boredom

      d. Lack of job satisfaction

      e. Concerns over promotions, layoffs, or retirement

      f. Feelings of inadequacy

      g. Fear of failure

      h. Personal injury to self or co-workers

      i. Death of co-worker or family member

      j. Personal family problems

NOTE: Problems outside the department such as financial problems, drug or alcohol dependency, problems with children, or marital problems can impact on the firefighter’s ability to perform. While it is important to stay out of personal affairs, it is necessary to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all.

B. Impact on performance

  1. May not be able to concentrate on work

  2. Friction with co-workers and supervisors

  3. Absenteeism or tardiness

  4. Denial of a problem

  5. Resorting to the use of alcohol or medications

  6. Tired from inadequate rest

 

II. RECOGNITION OF SYMPTOMS (EO 1-2)

A. Signs and Symptoms

When body undergoes normal levels of stress, it protects itself through

  1. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure

  2. Oxygen consumption

  3. Muscle tension and strength

  4. Dilation of the pupils

B. Excessive stress results in further emotional and cognitive responses

  1. Difficulty staying focused or concentrating

  2. Temporary loss of short-term memory

  3. Obsessive thoughts

  4. Loss of mental flexibility

  5. Tendency to withdraw or become isolated

  6. Feeling invulnerable

  7. Experiencing fantasies or wishful thinking

  8. Putting mind on autopilot

  9. Abuse of alcohol and drugs

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