The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recently released a video featuring the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), Hanover County Fire and EMS, and Norfolk Police. The powerful PSA is part of an awareness campaign highlighting the importance of first responders seeking help for the stress and fatigue that come with the job.

First responders can experience repeated trauma and suffering which can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts. First responders are shockingly more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. The campaign is designed to communicate the significance in recognizing the signs a first responder might be suffering.

VDH says the goal is to remind first responders and those who know and love them, that it is okay to make the call.  It is okay to reach out for help.  It is okay to take care of yourself.  The Virginia Office of EMS is providing access to numerous resources to help providers and agencies recognize the signs and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress and understand the training and resources that are available not just for the first responder, but for the family as well.

RAA fully supports those efforts. The organization has a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team to help its providers deal with a traumatic event such as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) or pediatric or suicidal deaths. RAA has also created a Peer Support Program (PSP) to help providers deal with the day to day stress of the job.

The following links were provided by the Virginia Office of EMS as resources for first responders across the state.

Signs and Symptoms

CISM Team Contact Information

Mental Health Resources

CISM/Peer Support Team Resources