It’s no secret public safety professionals are exposed to more high-stress situations than the average civilian. With that, fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel experience higher rates of stress-related disorders and diseases.

The National Institute for Public Safety Health highlighted this by comparing the average age of a first heart attack in the general U.S. population (66 years old) to the average age for a firefighter (49 years old). These findings were also similar for law enforcement. Law enforcement officers tend to have higher blood pressure and cholesterol than civilians and 40% of them have a sleep disorder.

Due to these elevated risks, public safety personnel must be proactive in caring for their mental and physical health. TargetSolutions’ online training course library for public safety agencies includes training for the wellbeing of employees. Courses such as NFPA 1500: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Fire Industry, Emotional Survival in Law Enforcement and Workplace Stress speak to the unique challenges of these industries and offer healthy coping strategies.

As September is National Suicide Prevention Month, identifying workplace stressors and reacting to warning signs is crucial. It’s the responsibility of every individual in these fields to understand their personal mental health and help one another when possible. Learn more about how your agency can address health concerns with TargetSolutions’ custom-built training for stress management.

Causes and Symptoms of Stress in Public Safety Employees

Stress is a common feeling most people feel in their daily lives and is often temporary and easily managed. However, for first responders, this isn’t necessarily the case. Their prolonged exposure to a variety of stressors puts them at risk of developing stress-related conditions. Sources of stress for emergency responders can include seeing people’s distress and pain, threats to their personal safety, long hours or overtime, the responsibility of saving lives, time spent away from home and work politics.

Symptoms of stress in public safety employees are as diverse as its potential causes. Physical symptoms can range from body or headaches, dizziness, digestive issues, change in appetite, speech impediments and more.

NFPA 1500: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Fire Industry

PTSD is a severe stress reaction first responders can develop due to the horrifying and graphic moments they face on a regular basis. Even if they are unaware of the impact at the time, repeated exposures can systematically affect their mental wellbeing. If untreated, it can lead to a number of long-term issues such as divorce, loss of job or even suicide.

The TargetSolutions course, NFPA 1500: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Fire Industry, uses real case studies, statistics and practical strategies to help fire service members identify the symptoms, treatment and prevention strategies for PTSD. This video-based course also uses custom footage to narrate potential encounters EMS personnel would have in the field and show how PTSD can take a physical toll.

After taking this course, firefighters will have a better understanding of PTSD and be able to address it with healthy coping mechanisms.

Emotional Survival in Law Enforcement Training

Being a law enforcement officer has unique stressors that a firefighter or EMT does not. Carrying a firearms, having control of one’s emotions and failing to resolve cases can weigh heavy on one’s psyche.

Emotional Survival in Law Enforcement was created in collaboration with Calibre Press, a leader in creating law enforcement training content. Using a live Calibre Press instructor, this course addresses police culture, identifiers and symptoms of stress, and ways to cope to avoid the consequences of stress. Learners taking this course will gain tools to prevent stress from impacting their mental and physical health and better understand suicide prevention awareness in the industry.

EMS Workplace Stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of reduced productivity in the workplace. EMS employers should be mindful of the impact of stress on their providers so they can help minimize the impact of stress on employees and their agency.

EMS Workplace Stress highlights ways to reduce stress in one’s daily life as well as common stressors for EMS personnel. Covered in 9 learning modules, this course uses studies pulled from EMS professionals and practical information to help EMS agencies start the conversation around stress management.

For more information about Suicide Prevention Month please visit their website here. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, please contact the toll-free number: 1-800-273-8255.