Life in itself is difficult and challenging. Normal everyday routines are tough enough to juggle work, friends, finances, and family issues, not to mention staying healthy and fit. It’s a lot. On top of that, we’re in the fire service. We took on the extra responsibility and risk of unselfishly giving more of ourselves to assist those who call upon us in their worst moments. We see, hear, smell, taste and feel things that stack up on an already full plate and sometimes those experiences never fade away. Yet we forge on, doing our duty, fulfilling our obligations all the while keeping the ghosts quiet behind locked doors. A lot of our brothers and sisters do quite well managing this lifestyle although few will openly admit they struggle; they suffer silently. Some have even taken their own lives to free themselves of the internal agony of a life out of control. It’s time for us to own all the bravado motto’s that our profession proclaims in words like “Family”, “Brotherhood”, “Everyone Goes Home”, and “I got your back!”. It’s time for us to look out for each other not only on the fire ground when the tones go out, but every day, every moment. There should never be a time when we suffer alone. The Alaska Fire Fighter Peer Support (AKFFPS) Team was formed to support our own. Fellow brothers and sisters who walk your walk and talk your talk; that can relate to you like no one else can. In times of professional or personal struggles, there are those that traveled those roads before you that can lend an ear, give guidance or offer you assistance; and if it’s beyond their scope, our very own veteran board certified clinician can. The epitome of being strong, brave, and courageous is not bearing life's burdens alone but stepping up and either dealing with our own internal struggles or helping a brother or sister who you know may be suffering; silently. A save you might not have expected.
What is critical incident stress?
Workers responding to emergency events and or disasters will see and experience events that will strain their ability to function. These events, which include having to witness or experience tragedy, death, serious injuries and threatening situations are called "Critical Incidents." The physical and psychological well-being of those experiencing this stress, as well as their future ability to function through a prolonged response, will depend upon how they manage this stress. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder differs from critical incident stress by lasting longer than four weeks after the event triggering the emotional, mental or physical response. Most instances of critical incident stress last between two days and four weeks.