(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Post traumatic stress isn’t limited to military members. First responders are often faced with events similar to seeing war and combat, and tThere are now several programs in Colorado offering a life line to those on the front lines.
“There’s been a big culture shift over the years in responder community where you really didn’t talk about mental health at all,” said Dr. Sara Metz, Program Director of Colorado State University Global’s Military and Emergency Responder Psychology Program. “Now, this new generation has evolved to where there is this huge push to talk about the trauma.”
First responders like police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians often encounter these traumatic events and don’t address the thoughts and emotions that can result from those experiences.
First responders and their families can get more information on mental health, and get connected with wellness support through several websites and organizations. Dr. Metz suggests itsacalling.org, Code4Counseling, and revitalcolorado.org.
Some of the common indicators of someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Cutting off lines of communication
- Not talking about the job
- Being cynical
Jordan Long was a fire paramedic for ten years.
“Over time, I think I became a little bit callous,” Long admitted. “Like most of us, my wife started to tell me that I had changed as a person. I was not present at home or emotionally not the most sensitive to things that were maybe happening in my life or my kids’ lives.”
After realizing his own need to reboot, Long stepped away as a first responder and founded Revital – a non-profit where first responders provide much-needed assistance to other first responders.
“One responder to another. That means a lot to getting them in the doors,” Long said. “We engage with them in an outdoor setting with retreats like fly fishing, camping and biking. Then, connect them with counselors if needed.”
Even after experiencing the effects of PTSD, Long said it’s never too late too address it.
“We talk about physical injuries. Mental health injury has, in the past, been part of the shame cycle. And what we want is to take shame out of it and just see it as an injury,” said Dr. Metz.