The National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) recently released 2016 National Survey on EMS Mental Health Services PDF 15.4 MB. The survey information can help EMS leaders determine how to best address mental health issues in their departments.
Unfortunately, the survey indicated a lot of work is still needed to address stresses and strains so prevalent in EMS jobs. NAEMT candidly reports the survey results, including quotes from respondents along the way, discussing both what is being done well and what can be improved upon.
Most first responders can easily share stories of calls that haunt them. Even fairly routine calls have their share of risks and stressors as they force EMTs and paramedics to constantly be on guard against diseases, hazardous substance exposure or violent patients. Information gathered by NAEMT shows many mental health concerns are not addressed or, worse, not taken seriously.
Budget restrictions are only one barrier for beginning mental health care programs. The “just deal with it” attitude is common, but that philosophy is outdated and potentially dangerous to the health and wellbeing of first responders. Statistical evidence shows 37 percent of fire and EMS professionals have considered suicide, nearly 10 times greater than the general population. The time has come for this issue to get the attention it deserves, and it should be part of a comprehensive health and welfare plan.
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