Your world is busy. From the time your shift starts at the firehouse, you are on your feet taking care of things. When you get home, there are all the projects your wife is asking you to help with that you’d really like to get done. Then, there’s your kids, who have performances, practices, and commitments, and you do your best to be there for them. But, where’s that leave you?
Cancer. For some it's just others' distant tragedy, but for some it's the enemy that ruined the family. A cancer diagnoses can surface unexpectedly, raising feelings of desperation, uncertainty, anger, and resentment, mixed with feelings of determination, hope, and courage. And, the family surrounding the cancer patient is often blindsided by their own feelings and responsibilities as they support their loved one.
Everyone dies. First responders see a lot of deaths and near-death experiences on the job. Many people fear death. But, what if fear of death is what is holding so many people back from truly living? What if the thing many people are missing, the thing that makes them live in fear, is a healthy relationship with death?
Retirement is a relatively new concept, and it can almost seem unnatural when it finally happens. It brings in unexpected transitions, especially for firefighters and other first responders. As with everything else in life, it is best to be prepared before entering a new situation.
In a world of online dating, shows called Married at First Sight, and Millennials getting married later, it’s clear that the institution of marriage means something different today than it did when Grandma Lucille met Grandpa Harry in 1946.
In the fire service, preparation is key. The daily-ness of your work can make it easy to get sloppy. As you get used to going through the motions, you may not think as often about perfecting your steps or drilling the small motions into your muscle memory. This isn’t necessarily bad. The danger, though, is that as you let intentionality slide, you may also be letting some bad habits creep into your work, as well.
Throughout history, leaders have influenced their subordinates’ training, camaraderie, perceptions of their jobs, actions within challenging circumstances, and memories of intense experiences. Leaders in the military, law enforcement, and the fire service hold even greater influence over their subordinates: They prepare them, lead them through, and help them cope with potentially traumatic events (PTEs) in a way that points toward or prevents post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Yes, being busy can be good. It can be productive and satisfying, but it lacks space for you just to be, to breathe, and to think. You may not think you need space, but the truth is that space is where you heal. Space is where your best thoughts arise. Space is where you gain clarity on your past. Space, if used right, is where you become emotionally well.
(SUGAR GROVE, IL) November 4, 2017– As of November 4, 2017, Jada Hudson M.S., LCPC, CADC, is the first counselor in the state of Illinois, who is trained to provide a unique type of trauma counseling known as “Accelerated Resolution Therapy” (ART), Accelerated Resolution Therapy is an evidence-based treatment for psychological trauma and depression and is endorsed by the federal government, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMSHA), the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), and military leaders, whose recent emphasis has been to equip more therapists to provide Accelerated Resolution Therapy in order to bring these therapists to the troops and veterans who have acute stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fighting fires is not like normal life. Transitioning from fighting fires back to home life can be abrupt because of how different the two worlds are. In a fire, stress, adrenaline, setting aside of personal feelings, and command communication drive every movement. In normal life, life and death are not at stake.
Have you experienced conflict with your spouse recently? What if you had the power to diffuse the situation immediately by how you responded? Your body language and word choice can either build tension or diffuse drama. Try these simple listening skills to improve communication and stop conflict.
On Sunday, October 23rd, the Arizona Cardinals played the Seattle Seahawks in a riveting game that ended in a disappointing 6-6 tie. As I read a recap article about this game, the author sparked the idea for this article. This game was officially the lowest-scoring NFL game that ever went into overtime, and during all this playtime both teams missed what would have been game-winning field goals.
According to author Mitch Anthony, author of The New Retirementality, successful aging means living with vitality, continuing to challenge oneself mentally and physically, continuing to move forward, keep going, and try new things, and treating oneself as if he has many more years to live.
During CHP Academy’s Resiliency Training, seasoned officers teach cadets keys to survive the Academy. Since emotional wellness is crucial at every stage in law enforcement, here are a few of their emotional wellness secrets, that you can apply in your job today.
Got an upcoming test? Here are some tactics to help you remember what you need to remember. The California Highway Patrol Academy teaches cadets to use these key study skills, but they are helpful at any point in your career!
So, you joined law enforcement to help people. You wanted to make a difference in your community, in your world. But, the longer you work in law enforcement, the more you realize the world is a messed up place. You get knocked down. You see things you wish you had never seen. You get cynical. You may even feel depressed or tempted to turn to alcohol or other substances or behaviors to numb the pain or wake you up from the numbness you constantly feel.
I recently had the opportunity to shadow Aurora Fire Department’s Extrication Training, in which Private Stawikowski, Captain Garner, Private Koerbrel, and Lieutenant Glen Hasenheyer prepared and observed recruits as they tackled three staged obstacles with three specific tools. At the first station, recruits used an ax to cut through a roof. At the second station, recruits used a 26-pound saw with various blades to cut through rebar. At the third station, recruits worked with a hammer and wedge to open a 1000-pound metal door. Each station required precise skill and tireless physical exertion.
More than anyone, firefighters know that in an emergency situation, their natural reaction is “fight or flight”. If the danger is surmountable, we may choose to stand our ground and fight. If we can outrun or avoid the danger, we will flee. However, there is another response that can occur when a danger seems so overwhelmingly hopeless that there is no chance of survival. We may freeze, like the deer in the headlights.
You experienced a trauma. It was horrible. What now? How do you even begin to think about it? Where do you go first? You can’t get it out of your head, and you don’t want people to think you’re weak. Should you talk to someone, or should you try to sort it out on your own? Should you take your time, or do you need to come forward right away?
Fighting a fire, going out on an EMS call, or extricating someone from a traffic accident, all demand that you go into battle mode. You have a task ahead of you and someone who needs you. Nothing should slow you down. But what if another department arrived before you? Who, then, calls the shots? Did they do a 360° size-up to your standards? What if they missed something? It can get clunky when multiple cities work together, and one slip up could cost someone his life.
Cancer. For some it’s just others’ distant tragedy, but for some it’s the enemy that ruined the family. For many firefighters, cancer is a reality that they may have to face because, in the fire service, cancer rates are higher than in other occupations.
Establishing a peer support program specifically geared toward retired firefighters introduces new psychological, physiological, and relational dynamics. Because these retired firefighters are no longer wrapped up in the daily busyness of firehouse life, they often find themselves searching for belonging and discovering that years of commitment to the fire service has left them feeling somewhat disconnected from family life and longing for a renewed sense of purpose and excitement.
The word “MAYDAY” is one of the scariest words a firefighter can hear and the hardest for a firefighter to transmit. It typically means one or more firefighters are down and in need of a rescue. How do you deal with a MAYDAY? Knowing how to cope before, during and after the call is important for all firefighters.
Recently, I was invited by Matt Acuff and Jason Demas to participate in RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) training with the Aurora Fire Department. I attended alongside fire academy students who were to be on shift in three weeks.
Every individual is unique. Like a fingerprint, everyone has their own set of interests, desires, relationships, and experiences. However, within our society’s beautiful tapestry of uniqueness lies many individuals, whose interests and desires have been driven to extremes, compelling them to mask their underlying feelings.
Strong, brave, and fierce are adjectives you may use to describe a firefighter. They are also appropriate adjectives to describe an eagle. Like eagles, firefighters are worth fighting for. But the similarities don’t end there.
From celebrities to people in our own family, suicide strikes at our heart and brings shock and emotional pain to everyone left behind. Suicide in the firefighting world, unfortunately, is not only evident. It is prevalent.
When Sarah Gura asked me to join her and Cody for a special firefighter training day at the Aurora Fire Department for just us FPS therapists, I was expecting more of a demonstration and lecture about smoke and fire. Or, at least, that’s what I thought was going to happen. I never realized what an emotionally and physically exhausting, yet rewarding experience I was about to have.
Few of us welcome worry into our life, yet nearly all of us experience it. Worry is thinking about what may happen, or has already happened in an obsessive way, repeatedly asking, “What will I do? What should I have done?” Worry falls between concern, which is a milder form of worry; and anxiety, a more intense version of worry that carries physical symptoms like stomachaches or changes in breathing.
Alcohol abuse is a common problem among people with high stress jobs, and firefighters are no exception. The really hard part for all involved is determining the severity of the alcohol abuse and how to manage it.
Depression symptoms and treatment have been studied primarily from a female perspective, and women definitely manifest depression differently than men. Women blame themselves, tend to talk about their feelings more and show visible signs of their despair. In contrast, men tend to blame others and find it “weak” to talk about their feelings. They may also self-medicate with alcohol, exercise, sex and the endless process of goal attainment, to name a few.