1. #1
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    Oushore's Avatar
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    Mar 2002

    Question Stress Reaction?

    What is a "Stress Reaction"? and does it occur just after an incident... or can it happen several months afterward?

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Clermont County, Ohio

    Default Stress Reactions

    There are a wide variety of stress reactions and they can occur shortly after an incident or in a few cases much later.

    Here are some stress reactions I've either seen or been told about as a member of a regional CISM team:
    • Difficulty sleeping, possibly including nightmares.
    • Constantly going over the incident in your mind - can't get it out of your head.
    • Inability to concentrate.
    • Grouchiness, irritability.
    • Either total loss of energy or hyperness.
    • Loss of interest in food, sex, normal fun things, or an excessive interest in them.
    • Self medication with alcohol, nicotine, drugs.
    This is far from an inclusive list. I tell folks to look around them - they can tell when someone isn't acting normal for themselves. In most folks, reactions occur fairly quickly if they're reacting to a particular incident. It's less common that it comes out much later. However, it is common for cumulative stress to play out over time. This could come from multiple bad runs, difficult working conditions, stress from other parts of life, etc.

    This is not even the tip of the iceberg of what can happen. We're all different, different things hit us hard, and we react differently.

    www.icisf.org is a great resource for more information on this.

    I hope this helps - please PM me if you'd like to talk more.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  3. #3
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    Oushore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002


    Thank You

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    jiffy911's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    under the covers...ignoring the alarm clock!


    Hi Oushore
    Ohiovol gave some very good info...all those things are true. And yes, a stress reaction can happen months after a particularly traumatic incident. If you've ever heard of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that's what they are talking about. When a person is stressed/depressed/whatever, it is always good to "talk it out" with someone you trust and feel comfortable with. I know from experience that if you keep it all bottled up, you will explode!
    Hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to PM me as well.
    Jen, EMT-B
    "I got lost in thought...it was unfamiliar territory."
    "I love mankind--it's people I can't stand" --Linus

  5. #5
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    May 2002


    I cut & pasted some info from a "fact sheet" to just build on the great things others have already said

    "A traumatic event or a critical incident (any incident that causes emergency service personnel to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with their ability to function either at the scene or later) is a professional hazard in emergency service. Even though an event may be over, you can or may experience later, some strong emotional and/or physical reactions. It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have been affected by a horrible event. It is helpful to keep in mind that what is “horrible” for one person may not be to another.

    Typical “critical incidents” for firefighters/medics are: line of duty death, near miss (death) of a firefighter on a scene, suicide of a colleague, violent death of child, mass casuality/fatality incidents, and acts of terrorism.

    Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. And, in some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear.

    The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks or a few months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. With understanding and support of your coworkers and loved ones, the stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally the traumatic event is so painful that more formalized assistance may be necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful. There are several types of “formalized assistance” available. These may include your EAP, a private mental health professional, or a local CISM team. A local CISM team is comprised of fellow firefighters donating their time, as well as volunteer clinicians, to offer support to their brothers and sisters. Arguably, this can be seen as one of the truest forms of the brotherhood in firefighting."

    "Recommendations to Try- just not all at once

    · Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol, you don’t need to complicate this with a substance abuse problem.
    · Eat well-balanced and regular meals (even if you don’t feel like it).
    · Structure your time even more carefully than usual. It’s normal to forget things when you’re under stress.
    · Maintain as normal a schedule as possible. Cut out unnecessary business, don’t take on new projects.
    · Maintain control where you can. Make small decisions, even if you feel that it’s unimportant or you don’t care (e.g. if someone asks you what you want to eat – answer them even if you’re not sure).
    · Get plenty of rest.
    · You’re normal and having normal reactions – don’t label yourself crazy.
    · Acknowledge that you’ll be operating below your normal level for a while.
    · Talk to people – talk is the most healing medicine.
    · Reach out – people do care.
    · Spend time with others, even though it may be difficult at first. It’s easy to withdraw when you’re hurt, but now you need the company of others.
    · Help others as much as possible by sharing feelings and checking out how they’re doing.
    · Give yourself permission to feel and share your reactions with others.
    · Keep a journal, write your way through those sleepless hours.
    · Do things that feel good to you.
    · Realize those around you are under stress.
    · Don’t make any big life changes.
    · Reoccurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal – don’t try to fight them – they’ll decrease over time and become less painful.
    · Give yourself time. You may feel better for a while, then have a “relapse.” This is normal. Allow plenty of time to adjust to the new realities.
    · For more information or concerns contact your local CISM team and/or visit www.icisf.com" or holler back to me at pbcism@aol.com

    Best Wishes!

  6. #6
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Arrow Book To Read

    I suggest you look into reading this book called CopShock by Allen Kates. It is an incredible book about Post Traumatic Stress and CISD. Even though it was originally written about police officers, there are some stories in the book that focus on firefighters.
    Wendy Norris
    Fire Chaplain
    President, Firefighter Ministries

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