Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as: “an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened,”- Psychology Today. Generally speaking, this condition is usually associated with military members who had experienced some kind of traumatic event while at war, such as combat. However, anyone can develop PTSD, for a number of different reasons; from seeing a traffic accident, to actually being in it… and, for the purpose of this study, the people resonding to it.
During this study, I will be conducting interviews with members of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community that are EMT’s/Paramedics, Firefighters, and ER staff, including techs and RN’s. By the nature of the job, exposure to events where severe physical harm has happened is almost a daily occurrence. By interviewing a wide range of occupations, performing similar job tasks in similar situations, I have obtained a wide range of knowledge from different multiple different perspective’s in the EMS field. Personally, I have worked as an EMT for three years, and currently am employed at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Apex Paramedic Ambulance Services, and volunteer at Fairmount Fire. For the purpose of this study, I have interviewed my coworkers at these three different locations, focusing on employee’s who have been in the career field for longer than five years.
The reality of PTSD is the fact that these traumatic calls possibly wont bother you today, tomorrow, or maybe not even next year. As pointed out by Joanna Andrews, a psychology professor who also ran critical incident debriefings with EMS employees, “it doesn’t just go away. With PTSD, you might discover what is bothering you years in the future, when you thought you had forgotten about it.”
My primary purpose for this study is to first: identify what causes PTSD for EMS personal. During the interviews, I ask EMS members their personal experiences in dealing with stress, and whether or not they have been effected with PTSD. After this, I will go on to explore positive stress management techniques. Again, I will rely heavily on the interviews I will be conducting with EMS personal, focusing what has worked for them over the years. Using their experience, I will discover what to do, and what not to do, in order to have a longer, more healthy career in a stressful field.