Albany Fire Dept. stresses the importance of PTSD awareness
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - June is National PTSD Awareness Month. That’s why fire and police departments across the country are recognizing the mental health needs of those on the front lines. On Wednesday, WALB News 10′s Fallon Howard spoke with first responders on how it affects their jobs daily.
PTSD can affect first responders but it can also affect you. It’s important to know the warning signs to protect your mental health.
Fires, car crashes, deadly shootings. First responders experience some of the most traumatic incidents you can imagine. The mental toll they take is different for everyone. Albany Assistant Fire Chief Ken Turner says PTSD is a gradual process. The symptoms may not appear all at once.
“But it’s also accumulative. It may not bother you the first time, the second time, and maybe a little more the third time and even more as they progress through their careers. It’s common to find that approximately 20% of firefighters will experience PTSD,” said Turner.
Experts say it’s critical for first responders to be in touch with their feelings, moods, and thoughts. They may be experiencing PTSD without even knowing it.
“But it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD which includes vivid flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and behaviors, nightmares that could be associated with critical incidences,” said Turner.
Mental health experts offer important reminders for loved ones. Holidays can trigger PTSD for some people. And they say PTSD doesn’t just go away but it can get easier. They say you have to have that outlet; someone you can talk to.
Something the Albany Fire Department is also taking note of is they say PTSD can impact their jobs. Along with getting treated for PTSD, the fire department has daily debriefings to help cope with PTSD. Talking it through also helps.
“It starts with self-care, you have to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You can’t help others unless you are 100%. So start with self-care and have an outlet that you can talk to and get some good hobbies,” said Sheila Sims, 911 Communications Manager.
Sims says if you are out there and you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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