The 4L Approach©:  Stress Management and First Responders

What is the most stressful occupation? Depends on who you ask or the research you read.  Many say Air Traffic Controllers or Pilots.

Always Among the top ten most stressful occupations: First Responders

What is a “First Responder” and what are the Characteristics of “First Responders?

  • What is a “First Responder”?
    • A first responder is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies.
    • The occupations defined as “first responders” are:
      • Emergency Medical  Technicians (EMT)
      • Firefighters
      • Law Enforcement Officers
    • Order Ranking:
      • The three occupations are “classified” under the category of “First Responder”
      • It is important to keep in mind that there is no order of importance (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in the three jobs.
      • Depending on the type of medical emergency, usually one job will be the “first on the scene”, with the other two arrival order be 2nd or 3rd, depending upon a variety of factors.
    • The degree/intensity of the involvement has a significant bearing upon the “amount of stress experienced by the specific category of job. The degree/intensity of involvement is governed by the type of medical emergency
  • What are the Job and Stress Characteristics of “First Responders”?
    • The Jobs
      • Common Characteristics
        • All three jobs are oriented toward helping others  —included in “helping” occupations
        • All three jobs are  in unique “types” of organizations/positions:
          • Paid, full-time positions
          • Non-paid/volunteer positions
          • Mixed — positions in same organization includes paid and unpaid positions
          • The type of position influences the interaction of employees
      • Unique  Characteristics
        • Depth of medical training
        • Exposure to personal  risk
      • Perceived respect  they receive for their “emergency” duties
        • between first responder group members
        • within their occupation group members
        • by their spouse/partner, family, children
        • by their community and friends
        • In all the above areas:
          • 1st – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers considered equal
          • 2nd – Emergency Medical Technicians
      • Perceived Compensation they receive for their “emergency” duties
        • 1st – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers considered equal
        • 2nd -Emergency Medical Technicians
      • Perceived Career Potential Advancement/Opportunities
        • Equal to their peers – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers
        • Below their peers -Emergency Medical Technicians
    • Job Stress
      • Common Stressors on the Job
        • Uncertainty of what situation they will encounter with each emergency
        • Uncertainty of the danger with each emergency
        • Working rotating shifts and that effect upon their relationships
        • Uncertainty of when the work day ends and the effect upon their relationships
        • Lack of appreciation by the people they “help” during and after the emergency
        • Physical stress of performing with heavy equipment load
        • Uncertainty of condition (sudden calm to emergency, back to calm, back to emergency)
      • Perceived stress in performing “emergency” duties
        • between first responder group members
        • within their occupation group
        • by their spouse/partner, family, children
        • by their  community and friends
        • In all the above areas:
          • Perceived Most stress – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers considered equal
          • Perceived Least Stress – Emergency Medical Technicians
      • Perceived effects of job related stress
        • between first responder group members
        • within their occupation group
        • by their  community and friends
        • by their spouse/partner, family, children
        • by their  community and friends
        • In all the above areas:
          • Perceived Most stress  – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers considered equal
          • Perceived Least Stress – Emergency Medical Technicians
      • Perceived results/outcome of job related stress
        • Relationship problems (with spouse, partner, children)
        • Divorces
        • Financial problems
        • Health problems
        • Stress related problems
          • Stress– stress is the first step on the downward path to suicide!
            • (acute stress can lead to chronic stress)
          • Anger
            • Toward self (self-inflicted personal harm)
            • Toward others (workplace violence and domestic violence)
          • Depression
          • Suicide (often preceded by murder of who they consider the source of their stress)
        • In all the above areas:
          • Most effects  – Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers considered equal
          • Least effects – Emergency Medical Technicians

ESC First Responder Programs

  • Because of the uniqueness of (1) the organization structure for each of the first responder occupations and (2) the peer and professional  support available during the performance of emergency and non-emergency situations, ESC customizes the 4L Approach© Program© for each 0f the “First Responder” occupations. For example:
    • EMT’s performing in a large metropolitan Emergency Services organization with large scale backup verse EMT’s performing in a rural all-volunteer small rescue squad wide area environment with very limited or no backup.
    • The type of emergency situation responded to, frequency of emergency events, and the “stress coping” support available differ significantly between the metro and rural emergency medical service (EMS) organizations.
    • The cumulative effect of all the stress or variables (such as frequency, intensity, duration, perceived importance, response, resilience, support, etc.), coupled with the differences in the EMT’s perceptions and personality necessitates, job specific stress management training.
  • For details of the programs for each of the three occupations, contact ESC at 270.873.7433 or email.
    • Emergency Medical Technicians
    • Firefighters
    • Law Enforcement Officers
Be Sociable, Share!