John Rose of Oak Bluffs: Facts on Firefighters with PTSD

According to John Rose of Oak Bluffs, countless organizations and professionals have been working to educate people all over the world on specific health issues faced by firefighters and first responders. Today, John Rose will be focusing on topics that he believes should be talked about more — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide risk in firefighters and first responders.

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Several scientific studies point to the fact that firefighters and first responders have a higher risk of developing PTSD. Firefighters and first responders also have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors when compared to the general population. Learning to recognize warning signs of PTSD is one important step every department can take to protect their most valuable assets — the members of their team.

On that note, John Rose of Oak Bluffs shares seven facts on firefighters with PTSD.

Fact #1: They have intrusive memories from time to time.

People with PTSD often relive traumatic events, and they do so in vivid memories. These memories can manifest as flashbacks or nightmares.

Fact #2: They exhibit avoidance behaviors

It’s common for firefighters with PTSD to avoid reminders and feelings that are associated with their trauma. Examples of these could be certain activities, places, or people. It can disrupt the person’s normal daily routine.

Fact #3: They experience increased triggers and behaviors.

Symptoms of PTSD related to this may include increased anger or aggression, hypervigilance, irritability, insomnia, and hypersensitivity.

Fact #4: They go through negative changes in moods and thoughts.

It’s common for those with PTSD to undergo an array of other mental health disorders along with their disorder. According to John Rose of Oak Bluffs, these can include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. A few symptoms of these may consist of feelings of detachment and guilt, negative mood, distorted beliefs about oneself, others, and the world, and lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Fact #5: They often seem zoned out when they get home after work.

Husbands and wives of firefighters with PTSD mention that they observe their spouses experiencing a stupor when returning home from work. They tune out the rest of the world by becoming engrossed in the TV or any other electronic gadget. If they are unable to come out of this perceived “vortex” to answer questions or even turn their attention to something else, it may be worth looking into.

Fact #6: They start the day with feelings of stress.

People without PTSD usually start a day like an empty glass that fills up with different kinds of stressors as the day wears on. Someone with PTSD will start a day with feelings of stress, explains John Rose of Oak Bluffs.

Fact #7: They often reminisce about things they used to do.

People with PTSD are known to often talk about things they used to do or things that they enjoyed but don’t do anymore. To help them, friends and loved ones can try to keep track of how much they talk about these things. If it is a lot, creating situations where they can do these things again may help a great deal.

John Rose is Oak Bluffs Fire Department Chief with certifications including Fire Prevention Officer and Fire Officer 1. Follow this page for more discussions on PTSD and mental health concerns and support for firefighters.

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