I've always considered myself an aggressive firefighter. I also would like to think I am a competant EMS provider. I have tallied over 10 years experience in the fire service and have begun to rise within the ranks of our department. I work full time as a firefighter in a pretty active department and part-time for our local EMS service. My career has been going well, with very limited pitfalls. Until recently, I've always maintained a strong confidence in my ability to handle most situations I'm presented with. I'm beginning to notice a change in myself...
I notice that I've become much more anxious when responding to calls. Sometimes the anxiety is to a point where I physically become nauseated with concern over what might lie ahead of us. Once I'm on scene, I can pull myself together and accomplish whatever tasks are required of me. But the feelings of dread can be overwhelming while enroute.
I've seen many traumatic events from Self-inflicted GSW's, to murder scenes, bad 10-50's requiring extrications..I've also removed a victim from a housefire ( she died on scene however). I'm not sure why, with my experience, I'm having these uneasy feelings that have recently become a nuisance. Anyone have any insight?
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Thread: Am I alone?
12-20-2004, 11:31 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
- Fayetteville, NC
Am I alone?
12-20-2004, 11:53 PM #2
Perfectly normal behaviour. It may be time to seek some wise counsel from your CSID people.
It is nothing that can not be overcome, just the accumulation of doing the job over some years. You may want to ask around for some professional assistance.
This can be nothing more than being able to really talk through your feelings in an environment away from the job, and family. It is nothing to feel threatened or ashamed about.Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.
12-21-2004, 01:25 AM #3
I would say go to your CISD or CISM team, either local or state. I'd say its just from many years of seeing the good the bad and the ugly. Have you had any real bad calls lately? maybe a recent call has gotten the stress level up and it hasn't gone down. Whatever it is get some help looking into it now before it gets any worse.
12-21-2004, 02:23 AM #4
Been there, read the book ,got the tee-shirt--unfortunately there was no such animal as counselor, shrinks or whatever, when I hit "the wall"--you had to chew it out over the mess room table.
Whatever it takes to get over the hump-go for it. Good luck,mate."If you thought it was hard getting into the job--wait until you have to hang the "fire gear"up and walk away!"
Harry Lauder 1981.Me on the left!
12-21-2004, 06:51 AM #5
Rew, like Ian said, this is the accumulation of all your experiences over the years and the things you have seen and dealt with. Its a bit like a dripping tap, it can go on like that for years then all of a sudden, the washer lets go and everything falls apart. (A poor analogy, but thats what it can be described as being liked).
As a Debriefer for CISD in my area, I would advise you to have a sit down with someone trained in debriefing techniques. (Counselling is maybe a little too strong a word for what could just be a chat with someone to get things off your chest). Theres no shame in firefighters talking about what we do in a structured manner. After all as has been pointed out we talk over jobs, good and bad every day at work.United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.
12-21-2004, 08:22 AM #6
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
- metro Washingon DC
Your feelings are normal.
I agree with the earlier posters that having a discussion with a TRUSTED peer, mentor, CISD person would help. If your organization has an Employee Assistance Program this is the type of thing that they can help with.
Sometimes, this feeling may indicate that you are uncomfortable with certain aspects of the job because you think that your skill level has degraded (or the job has changed.)
For example, a lot of the guys that spend time in office/staff jobs feel the same way when they return to the field. They have not worn an SCBA for months (or years) and do not want to screw up or get hurt.
Maybe you could participate in some formal or informal hands-on-training to increase your comfort level with the areas you are concerned about.
Last edited by MikeWard; 12-21-2004 at 08:24 AM.
12-21-2004, 09:18 AM #7
No...no you are not alone. Many of us have felt some of the same things you are feeling throughout our time in the fire/rescue/EMS service. What you are doing now is a good thing...opening up. Talk to those around you...come here, "talk" to us. You are never alone.May we never forget our fallen, worldwide.
I.A.C.O.J. Safety/Traffic Control Officer
"Who's Who Among American Teachers" - 2005, 2006 Honoree
12-21-2004, 08:20 PM #8
Just as stated above, You're not alone.
I have seen guys go through this and it is not as bad as it seems. I have felt it too. From my experience it seems that because you are seasoned some and have seen and done some things that no one really can understand except people in the same line of work. You should talk to someone you trust from your dept. and just talk, no particular subject just talk. I have had conversations with peers I was hired with that have the same thoughts. Mostly what I have heard is that they feel like they are in transition from being the young probies to the salty crusties. Someone with 10-15 years on, not a newbie but not a seasoned crusty with 20-25+ years on. Like they are caught in the middle and afraid they don't fit into a "group" or that the younger guys are going to pass them by and this creates stress.
I personally think it's starting to sink in that sometimes we do things that no one wants to hear about, that no one wants to see, but we have to do it or see it because that is who we are. The best thing you can do is chat with a friend from the station or at least someone who has an idea of what it is like. This has always helped me. And maybe just take some vacation time. Time away is always good.
I wish you luck and if you want to you can email me anytime.Jason Knecht
Altoona Fire Dept.
IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!
12-21-2004, 08:26 PM #9
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
CISM like all the other guys have said. We are human, we bleed. cry and laugh. Hopefully you have an Officer that will lead you to the help you need. We've all been there
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