Holidays bring a new set of skills we don’t usually practice
Thursday, December 08, 2016
The holiday season usually sees a spike in fire department alarms. There is no doubt some calls are the result of more people visiting families.
However, the holidays also bring on the blues for some people. It can be a time of sadness because of too much holiday-related stress or too few family members with whom to connect. It can also bring on negative aspects of other existing conditions.
This is where firefighters/EMS workers need to learn and use some of those other skills they don't usually practice on a daily basis. Even though some psychological training occurs in our EMT/paramedic training, it truly is not enough.
One key element required on these types of calls is patience. Lend an ear to allow depressed or lonely persons to express their feelings. We need to show them compassion and understanding. We also can offer them some advice, within our scope of practice, to call a long-lost family member or loved one, become involved with a community center, contact resources provided by the local community or government, find spiritual support at a local church, etc.
Deep-rooted emotions also can surface when some family members come into town. Calls may be for unconsciousness (fainting spells), domestic altercations, excess drinking of alcoholic beverages, agitated feelings or ongoing medical conditions.
As many of us have been taught, approach any situation with caution. Assure safe passage for you and your crew. If altercations are occurring, assure the presence of law enforcement. Do not endanger yourself or crew. Police also come in handy if an involuntary exam or commitment is required.
At the end of the call, the goal is to leave on a more positive note and assure everyone can still enjoy their celebrations. The added benefit to this is it also leaves a good impression for the department.
Remember, we are the jack of all trades for solving issues. That is why the public calls us. We want to try to bring "closure" to any negativity and end on a happy note, or at least let others know that we have taken the proper action to resolve the issue at hand, no matter the reason.
These responses can occur not only in private homes, but also in offices or businesses where holiday parties or celebrations occur. It may involve anyone from children to geriatric persons and everything in between. You may also be called to the homeless or those suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Responders need to be prepared for any given situation.
We also cannot let these type of incidents affect our personal well being, mental health and attitudes. We need to remain emotionally positive and physically fit for those that call us in time of need. It is always good to talk to your peers and crew about certain incidents that have affected you. In other words, get it off your chest.
Many people do not know what first responders need to deal with on a daily basis. It is good to share your experiences with your family, whether they are positive or negative. As with anything, time, experience and practice will empower dealing with holiday situations that emerge.
Try to keep that upbeat attitude. It is better for your mental well being and for your crew. People will feel it and notice it.
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