Resources For Firefighters
First Responder Meetings in California
Support meetings are available for first responders throughout Northern California – First Responder Meeting Locations
These meetings are only for first responders and not the general public. These meetings serve as a safe, confidential place, where first responders can share with people who truly understand. “In that room, I never feel alone” – Anonymous
Looking for a Clinician
Need to talk?
View a list of professionals vetted by the First Responder Support Network who specialize in First Responders.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been an accepted diagnosis since 1980. We believe it is time to adopt a new name – Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. PTSI is more accurate, hopeful and honorable.
PTSI is a biological injury that develops after a person has experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. While many people have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while after a traumatic event, they normally get better with time and don’t develop PTSI. Yet, some people show symptoms of PTSI like flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and frightening thoughts that get worse and/or last for months or even years, severely interfering with their daily lives.
For a full article please refer to: http://globalptsifoundation.org/ptsd-vs-ptsi
This is a website designed to be a point of reference for fire service members and their families. We have found that it can be difficult during times of stress for members to find the right resources such as counselors through your department’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program), mental health benefits through your medical insurance, or peer support.
What is PTSI in emergency responders?
As first responders, we put others first during emergency situations, which is a technique we automatically do to get through a critical incident and ensure that everyone is cared for and safe. A traumatic event, or critical incident, is any type of disaster such a hurricane, flood, car crash, fire, or caring for a severely injured individual. The individuals we help during these incidents can easily develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)/Post Traumatic Stress Incident (PTSI), as well as the first responders who help those individuals.
PTSD/PTSI is a medical condition that affects one’s mental health after being triggered by a traumatic event. This can occur by either experiencing or witnessing an event or by an accumulation of multiple events. Sometimes this they may lead to difficulty dealing with certain aspects of this event. These difficulties subside with time. However, if the symptoms interfere with daily activities or last for multiples weeks or months, this may indicate PTSD/PTSI.
The symptoms of PTSD/PTSI are extensive and vary from person to person. They are generally categorized into physical, behavioral, and emotional symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSI can be extensive and vary from person to person. Based on my personal experience, when these symptoms interfere with your life on a daily basis and you find yourself consumed by thoughts or feelings that you cannot control, it is a good idea to seek professional help for PTSI. Many First Responder organizations have established peer support groups, which can be a good place to find local information and assistance. Many agencies also have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help find a psychologist or counselor who specialize in PTSI. In addition, there are several national programs that specialize in PTSD for first responders. Please contact us for more information or to talk more about PTSD.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Common Stress Reactions from Critical Incidents
Physical symptoms may include:
- Grinding of teeth
- Intestinal upsets
- Excessive sweating
- Pounding Heart
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty breathing
Behavioral symptoms may include:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Substance abuse
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Difficulty remembering
- Anti-social behaviors
- Difficulty concentrating
- Emotional outbursts
- Excessive worry
Emotional symptoms may include:
- Guilt Depression
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Articles Demonstrating the Increased Risk for PTSD in the Firefighter Community:
Local Firefighter’s Widow Mission to Save Lives, Numbers Show Firefighter Suicide Rising (January 2, 2018) Luli Ortiz. CBS12.com West Palm Beach, FL
Groundbreaking Data Collected on Mental Health of First Responders (November 2, 2017) Randy Mellow. Journal of Emergency Medical Services
IAFF Center for Excellence
Exclusively for IAFF members.
It’s okay to ask for help.
The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery is a one-of-a-kind treatment facility specializing in PTSD for professional fire service members who struggle with trauma, substance use, addiction and other related behavioral health challenges. It is a safe haven for members to receive the help they need in taking the first steps toward recovery and share experiences with other members who have faced or overcome similar challenges.