Managing stress, resilience critical for mental health in EMS

by Bruce Evans, Fire Chief Upper Pine River Fire Protection District and President of the National Association of EMTs

Being in emergency medical services is rewarding. You get a chance to make a difference in people's lives. Occasionally, you're lucky enough to save people.
But there are also a lot of emotions involved when you're in an EMS environment. And your senses are really challenged. So, it’s important we help our paramedics and EMTs develop techniques they can use to cope with these experiences.

NAEMT has convened a group of excellent mental health professionals in emergency services, thanks to a grant from FirstNet®.

The mission of the resiliency course is really to train peers to have adequate skills to engage their coworkers in a positive way and know there are resources out there. There are techniques out there that have been vetted through the mental health community that they can engage with, as peers, before somebody has to get into a formal clinical relationship with a counselor or a therapist.
We know from our research that people are not comfortable engaging their employees’ assistance programs. A lot of times they don't want their supervisor to know that information. But they will reach out to a peer. And when they reach out to a peer, we want to make sure that peer has an excellent education and knows how to handle these situations.