John Rose of Oak Bluffs: Managing PTSD in Firefighters

Post-traumatic stress disorder, more popularly known and referred to as PTSD, is a mental health disorder connected to both stress and trauma. It typically develops after exposure to an event that involves death or severe physical harm. PTSD affects approximately 8 million Americans. It is also often co-occurring with depression, substance abuse, and other anxiety disorders, explains John Rose of Oak Bluffs.

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Firefighters and other first responders, such as EMTs, are often first-hand witnesses to tragedies, death, and destruction. They see it on a daily basis. It is part of their job, which can put them at a higher risk for developing PTSD. That is why stations and families need to know what signs to look out for.

Increased emotions and behaviors such as arousal, reactivity, anger or aggression, hypervigilance, irritability, insomnia, and hypersensitivity are signs of PTSD. Any negative changes in mood and thought should also be noted – and there are a lot more signs out there, says John Rose of Oak Bluffs.

While all these signs may be helpful in identifying PTSD, none of them, or other worrying signs you may encounter, are, in fact, conclusive proof of PTSD. It is still a disorder that has to be diagnosed by a qualified expert healthcare provider.

Outside of medical advice, John Rose of Oak Bluffs mentions that one of the most effective things you can do is create and cultivate a culture of openness and honesty. It’s quite unlikely that anyone will seek help or treatment if they are afraid they’ll be punished or ridiculed. That is why stations should empower all members of the team to communicate their concerns freely with no risk of facing any repercussions.

Another thing stations can do is to make sure they have a proactive plan for dealing with PTSD. A station leader must know what resources firefighters on their team have access to on local, state, and federal levels. It’s also important to understand the treatment methods that are available to firefighters who are struggling with PTSD.

PTSD treatments include exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, cognitive behavior therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, stress inoculation training, and cognitive processing therapy

The most important thing fire departments can do is create a safe space for all the members of their team. If you or someone you know is currently experiencing symptoms of PTSD, John Rose of Oak Bluffs says that you should not be afraid to act. Don’t sweep such important issues like this under the rug, hoping that they will go away on their own. It could have potentially devastating and tragic consequences.

Furthermore, firefighters should also be familiar with how to communicate their concerns about themselves as well as others in a non-judgmental way. Mental health can be a very challenging issue to discuss with others, adds John Rose of Oak Bluffs. That said, having the knowledge and plans in a workplace where PTSD is common can very well end up saving lives.

John Rose, Oak Bluffs , Martha’s Vineyard native, serves as the Chief of the Oak Bluffs Fire Department, with certifications including Fire Prevention Officer and Fire Officer 1. John’s commitment to public safety is unwavering. He strives to impact the lives of the residents of Oak Bluffs positively. For similar articles, bookmark this page.

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