We Deserve Answers Not Just Anecdotes

It certainly appears that suicide among EMS providers is on the increase. All too often we read articles like this one from Canada citing anecdotes and making promises. We know that the work is demanding and routinely exposes providers to critical incident stress. It is also no secret that all too often, the providers who face these incidents are left to deal with this accumulating stress on their own; either because of a lack of effective employer-based programs or due to a culture that discourages disclosure and treatment. When stress is left unaddressed, it can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD increases the risk of suicide and can be compounded by an individual’s negative coping strategies. Positive coping strategies and personal resilience, on the other hand, may actually help reduce PTSD risk and even contribute to Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG).

Faith Boldt, a Masters candidate in Public Health at Western Kentucky University, is conducting an important survey, which takes only about 20 minutes of your time to complete. Your time can be pivotal in impacting her study to investigate the relationship between PTSD and suicide ideation. The results will provide data on the prevalence of PTSD along with suicide ideation and will be offered to identify strategies to reduce that risk.

The survey will only be available for a short while, so please take time to click here and fill out this research survey honestly on PTSD and suicide ideation factors affecting EMS personnel. This is an important subject in EMS and it affects us all! So consider sharing the link and encouraging other first responders to participate as well.

The issues of mental health awareness in EMS are only just beginning to be discussed more openly. We can thank the efforts of people like Paul Combs in his illustrations like this sample below or organizations such as The Code Green Campaign , #IVEGOTYOURBACK911 or Heroes Are Human. Please show your support for them as well. But most of all, make sure you have the support you need, because more than anything else, we want you to be safe!

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5 Comments

  • MB says:

    I started to take the survey but when I got to page 6 I had to stop. I don’t suffer from PTSD and while I’ve suffered from some pretty traumatic experiences I have good resilience. There was no way to indicate that those question didn’t apply to me so I exited out of the survey so I didn’t mess up the results. Seems like a big oversight to me :(

  • Marilyn says:

    The survey is designed to capture the personal characteristics of people with and without PTSD. We hope to learn as much from those without PTSD as we do from those with it. Please consider taking the entire survey so your experience will be included. There’s also a place for your to write comments, and we appreciate hearing them!

  • Thank you so much for drawing attention to this important issue. If your company is a member of the American Ambulance Association and you need support, please call 800-929-0068 and you will be set up with in-person counseling in your area (free to you, 100% confidential, and paid by AAA). If you are a medic who doesn’t work for an AAA member org, please send me an email and I will do what I can to get you help. -Amanda Riordan, Membership Director, AAA

  • TL says:

    I’m with you MB. The presumption of the survey is that stress is bad and related to critical incidents and organizational culture. The net has been cast too narrowly for the survey to capture good data related to the those who suffer and those who don’t. In my case, stress is related to some foolish providers doing foolish things; some average safe/providers falling victim to training that tries desparately to make them mediocre, and some providers frustrated that excellence is seen as the way forward (and a great stress reliever). I say this after 30 years of paramedic practice, 2 degress and 2 college diplomas. I count myself in the last category, having been blessed to train thousands of special operations medics, cops and military in 7 countries on 4 continents. My source of daily stress is watching the fools not get fired, the capable not being enabled/mentored, and the excellent not be fully utilized/rewarded.

  • TL says:

    Errata: Sorry, that’s “… excellence is NOT seen…”

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