Joliet Firefighters 
Peer Support Group

"Firefighters helping firefighters and their families"

Information About Issues - See Below for More Information

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Suicide

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

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 60 firefighter LODD in 2017.  Compare this to 91 firefighter suicides.

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Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

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.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

PTSD has reached epidemic proportions in the fire service.  Symptoms include intrusion, avoidance, negative cognition and mood, and alteration in arousal response.

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Depression

Sleep Disorders

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)

Firefighters experience depressive disorders at more that twice the rate of the general public (17% vs 7%).  Resources are available to help.

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Family Issues

Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

The firefighter is not the only one affected by the job.  Spouses, partners, significant others, children and even parents can all face challenges.

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Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

Ask mental health professionals and they will tell you that everything is related to sleep.  Many mental health (and physical) issues can be affected by poor sleep.

Suicide in the Fire Service

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The Problem

Suicide has grown into a serious problem in the American fire service.

Prevalence of Suicide vs. Line of Duty Death (LODD) Firefighters

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the suicide rate among firefighters is much higher than the LODD  rate.


2017:  60 LODD, 91 Suicides

2016:  69  LODD,  99 Suicides

2015:  68 LODD,  94 Suicides

The Special Problem of Emergency Medical Services

According to the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF), EMS practitioners have a suicide rate that is 12x the national average.

Ideation (thinking about suicide)

5-13% of the general population.

21% of the firefighter population.

Planning (actually having a plan)

5% of the general population.

7-12% of the firefighter population.

Important

Studies show that 90% of all completed suicides show some sign before they occur.  Know the signs!

Some Signs (not all inclusive list, there are others)

Expressing feeling that the world would be better off without them;

Hopelessness/purposeless;

Withdrawal;

Giving away possessions;

Anxious, reckless behavior;

Extreme mood swings 

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)/Addiction

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Binge Drinking

Studies show that the rate of firefighter binge drinking is near double that of the general population.

Energy Drinks

Believe it or not, the rush provided by energy drinks may be addictive.

High Risk Behavior

High risk behavior may be addictive as well.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Prevalence Nation-wide

Most Americans will suffer some sort of a traumatic event in their lifetime.  Only 8% will be afflicted with PTSD, however.  The reasons for this, presumably, are resilience and support.  Resilience relates to "bouncing back" from the traumatic event by employing effective coping strategies.  Support refers to the availability of interpersonal  communication.

Prevalence in Firefighters

The rate of PTSD in the Urban Fire Service is between 13 - 30%.  This rate exceeds the  CDC  rate  to  wualify qualify as  an  epidemic,  which is  7%.

Signs/Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts or nightmares; avoiding places, activities or people that bring back the event; negative cognition or mood; and/or hyperarousal.

Depression

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Another Common Issue

The rate of depressive disorders ib the firefighter population is more than double that of the general population.    When  it  comes  to  depressive  disorder:


7% of the general population  is  affected.

17% of the firefighter popukation  is  affected.

Family Issues

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Who is Affected

We know that the firefighter is not the only one in the family that is affected by the job.    Spouse/significant other/partner, children, friends, and even parents may be affected.

What Happens at Home is Important

Sometimes, firefighters do not want to discuss work issues or critical incidents at home.   Observable  signs may be present, however.  Often, the first signs of trouble present themselves at home.

Psychological First Aid (PFA)

One of the most important things you can do is learn psychological first aid, particularly how to recognize signs of trouble.  Early recognition and intervention are critical.

Sleep Disorders

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Prevalence

20% of the general population. 

37% of the firefighter population.

Associated Illnesses/Conditions

Risk of the following conditions increases with inadequate sleep.


Cancer

Cardiovascular

Obesity

Diabetes


Talk to your doctor if you think you may have an issue.