Home » Firefighter PTSD Warning Signs Your Station Can’t Afford to Ignore

Firefighters are at a higher risk for developing PTSD due to the nature of their work, which often involves exposure to trauma, death, and destruction. Recognizing PTSD warning signs is crucial for departments and families to protect their teams. Here are eight warning signs to watch out for:

  1. Intrusive memories: PTSD sufferers may relive traumatic events through vivid memories, flashbacks, or nightmares.
  2. Avoidance behaviours: Those with PTSD may avoid reminders and feelings associated with their trauma, such as certain places, activities, or people.
  3. Increased arousal and reactivity: Symptoms include increased anger or aggression, irritability, insomnia, hypervigilance, and hypersensitivity.
  4. Negative changes in mood and thought: PTSD can be accompanied by anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, with symptoms like feelings of detachment and guilt, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, negative mood, and distorted beliefs about oneself, others, and the world.

Loved ones should also be aware of these warning signs:

  1. “Vortex of numb”: If a firefighter seems to enter a stupor when returning home and tunes out the rest of the world, it may be cause for concern.
  2. “Glass test”: People with PTSD may have a lower threshold for being overwhelmed by stress compared to those without PTSD.
  3. “Whatever wasteland”: Does your spouse take responsibility or make decisions without being asked?
  4. “I used to syndrome”: Does your spouse often talk about things they used to enjoy but don’t do anymore?

If you notice any of these signs, seek a diagnosis from a qualified healthcare provider. Create a culture of openness and honesty at your station, and have a proactive plan for dealing with PTSD. Ensure that resources are available for firefighters and educate them on treatment options such as cognitive behaviour therapy, exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and stress inoculation training. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for your team. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, do not hesitate to act.


Complimentary NFPA 1500 PTSD Training Course for First Responders

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is pleased to offer a complimentary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) training course for first responders, as part of our commitment to improving mental health awareness and support within the emergency services community. This course is designed to provide first responders with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize and manage the effects of PTSD in themselves and their colleagues.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this training course, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the definition, causes, and symptoms of PTSD.
  2. Recognize the risk factors and potential triggers for PTSD in first responders.
  3. Implement effective coping strategies and self-care techniques to manage PTSD symptoms.
  4. Identify signs of PTSD in colleagues and learn how to offer appropriate support.
  5. Utilize available resources and services for professional help with PTSD.
  6. Advocate for mental health support and awareness within their organizations.

Course Structure:

The complimentary NFPA 1500 PTSD Training Course is divided into the following modules:

  1. Introduction to PTSD: Understanding the basics of PTSD, its prevalence in first responders, and the importance of mental health awareness in emergency services.
  2. PTSD Risk Factors and Triggers: Recognizing the specific risk factors and potential triggers for PTSD in first responders, and understanding how to mitigate these risks.
  3. Coping Strategies and Self-Care: Learning effective coping strategies and self-care techniques to manage PTSD symptoms and promote overall well-being.
  4. Supporting Colleagues with PTSD: Identifying signs of PTSD in colleagues and learning how to provide appropriate support and assistance.
  5. Resources and Professional Help: Exploring the available resources and services for first responders seeking professional help for PTSD, and understanding when to seek assistance.
  6. Advocacy and Mental Health Support in Emergency Services: Learning how to advocate for mental health support and awareness within first responder organizations.

This training course is delivered through an online platform and includes a mix of engaging video lectures, interactive activities, and quizzes to ensure participants are actively involved in the learning process. Participants will have access to a course facilitator who can provide guidance and support throughout the course. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate of completion.








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