There is a Firefighter saying that our best day on the job is someone else's worse day of their life. While it's true that Firefighters and Police Officers are sometimes called upon to perform heroic deeds, it usually only occurs when a member of the public has something horrible happening to them. As a result, emergency services personel may often have to work in truly tragic situations. It is not unusual for them to see more scenes of despair in one shift than most people see in a lifetime.
Unfortunately, sometimes your best may not be good enough. People may lose their homes,
their possessions, or sometimes even their lives. And sometimes the emergency personel
get hurt trying to help.
In the early days of my careers as both Police Officer and Firefighter if anything really bothered you about an event, you were expected to just tough it out. Basically, shut up and get back to work.
Around the mid 1980's a movement started in the fields of Counselling and Psychology where the extreme emotional toll was finally acknowledged. Programs sprung up to combat Stress and Critical Incident Stress in Emergency Services Personel.
Both the Windsor Police and Windsor Fire now have excellent Peer Counselling and Stress Programs. I am a peer cousellor for the Windsor Fire & Rescue Service. Under the direction of a local Psychologist, we respond for mental health support at severe incidents both in and outside of the City of Windsor.
I recently completed my Honours Thesis in Psychology which dealt the type of mental health interventions that Firefighters may prefer after dealing with a critical incident. I hope to follow up this research as I continue my studies at Wayne State University.