For retirees and family members, this is a video presentation of the JFD training that was given on June 8, 9, and 10, 2021 to all on-duty firefighters and staff. It contains a synopsis of the last year of support and some common-sense approaches to improving mental health. We encourage spouses, loved ones, and families of active and retired members to become curious about your firefighter's career. You are the first line of defense against suicide and other preventable mental health issues.
Center Phoenix & Green Maltese Cross – The center phoenix signifies the ability of firefighters and their families to recover from mental health disorders and traumatic stress effects. The green Maltese cross is a common symbol of the fire service. Green is the color of mental health awareness.
Distress tolerance refers to the ability to withstand the effects of traumatic stress reactions. Coping & resilience refer to the ability to "bounce back" after an event has occurred. They are related but separate concepts but both are important in the process of continued mental health.
Rebuild, respond, recover, and revise represent a simplified version of the FEMA emergency management model (prevention, protection, response, recovery, mitigation). We have adapted these concepts into an easy-to-understand plan for comprehensive mental health stability in firefighters.
This is the phase where distress tolerance is built. Techniques such as stress inoculation training, visualization of critical incidents, and cue-based breathing exercises may enable the firefighter to reduce the impact of the event when it occurs. Preparedness is the key.
During the response phase, responders are often "too busy" to worry about stress management. - there is too much to be done. The firefighter will be better prepared if the rebuild phase is properly done. The firefighter will be able to endure more distress as a result and may suffer fewer negative effects later.
When the event is over, it is hoped that the built distress tolerance will have reduced the impact of the event. Some incidents, however, will inevitably have an effect on some responders. This is where coping strategies and resilience come in. Robust coping strategies are a must for these situations. Common coping mechanisms include distraction with hobbies and other activities, seeking meaning in work, and seeking social support.
When we have recovered from an event, it is time to evaluate our response and determine ways to improve it for the next event. This may include developing more or better distress tolerance techniques to mitigate the effects of the next exposure, being better prepared during the response phase through training, or exploring more robust coping strategies for use post-event.
Sr. Mary Frances Seeley, Ph.D., suicidologist for the Joliet Firefighters Peer Support Group has provided real, common sense advice for managing stress using individual coping strategies. Check out her presentation.
The JFPSG proudly serves the active members, retirees, and families of the City of Joliet Fire Department in Joliet, Illinois. Thank you present and past JFD members for your support and good work.
The Joliet Firefighters Peer Support believes that the path to Joliet Firefighter mental and emotional health begins with firefighters, clinicians, clergy, and public officials working together to provide support, education, and connection to resources to our firefighters and their families. The public can depend on firefighters. Firefighters can depend on their peer support network.
A Fire Department where all Joliet Firefighters and their families are holistically cared for by their peer network regarding all forms of mental and emotional health.
We are a volunteer organization that has the best interest of firefighters in mind. Our firefighters have been trained to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Peer Support standards and are prepared to provide quality peer support.
Suicide in the fire service has reached alarming proportions, surpassing line of duty deaths (LODD) in firefighters. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 48 firefighter LODD in 2019. Compare this to 119 firefighter suicides.
SUD is a common issue within the first responder community. Current research suggests that those in fire service engage in binge drinking at almost double the rate of the general public. Other issues include improper use of depressants and stimulants.
PTSD has reached epidemic proportions in the fire service. Symptoms include intrusion, avoidance, negative cognition and mood, and alteration in arousal response. There are effective treatments for this disorder.
Firefighters experience depressive disorders at more that twice the rate of the general public (17% vs 7%). Depression is highly treatable. There are resources available to help.
The firefighter is not the only one affected by this career choice. Spouses, partners, significant others, children and even parents can all face challenges.
Ask mental health professionals and they will tell you that everything is related to sleep. Many mental health (and physical) issues can be negatively affected by poor sleep.
Divorce can be a very stressful event in a firefighter's life. The Joliet Firefighters Peer Support Group has clinicians who specialize in pre-divorce couples and family counseling as well as post-divorce support.
Wellness is a critical element in the resiliency process. There are many dimensions to wellness including physical, spiritual, emotional, and social.
The JFPSG has adapted the FEMA Emergency Management Model to that of wellness. Elements include prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.
Seek help NOW! There is HOPE! Call or text (855) JFD-PEER,
Call or text the Upper Room Crisis Line (888) 808-8724,
Call or text Aspire Center for Positive Change (815) 353-3122.
1402 Roth Dr. Joliet, IL 60431 US
24/7 in Emergencies.
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