Hot Topics     Home and Family    

To First Reponders: Take Care of Yourself During These Times



Here are tips to keep in mind to keep yourself feeling well and thinking clearly

first responders, COVID, safety, health, wellness

The Hudson Valley is home to many first responders: EMT’s, fire personnel, police officers, health care workers, social workers, and others. The list includes those who are the front lines during a health crisis, or when local protests over events in our world escalate into violence.  The CDC offers tips for those who witness human suffering, or put themselves into risky situations, work longer hours, and make life and death decisions every day.
 
“There are important steps responders should take before, during, and after an event,” says the CDC website.
Preparing for a Response:
  • Try to learn as much as possible about what your role would be in a response.
  • If you will be traveling or working long hours during a response, explain this to loved ones who may want to contact you. Come up with ways you may be able to communicate with them. Keep your expectations realistic, and take the pressure off yourself.
  • Talk to your supervisor and establish a plan for who will fill any urgent ongoing work duties unrelated to the disaster while you are engaged in the response.
During a Response: Understand and Identify Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress

Limit your time working alone by trying to work in teams.

Responders experience stress during a crisis. When stress builds up it can cause:
  • Burnout – feelings of extreme exhaustion and being overwhelmed
  • Secondary traumatic stress – stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event.
Coping techniques like taking breaks, eating healthy foods, exercising, and using the buddy system can help prevent and reduce burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Recognize the signs of both conditions in yourself and other responders to be sure those who need a break or need help can address these needs.

Signs Of Burnout:
  • Sadness, depression, or apathy
  • Easily frustrated
  • Blaming of others, irritability
  • Lacking feelings, indifferent
  • Isolation or disconnection from others
  • Poor self-care (hygiene)
  • Tired, exhausted, or overwhelmed
  • Feeling like:
        o  A failure
        o  Nothing you can do will help
        o  You are not doing your job well
        o  You need alcohol/other drugs to cope
Signs of Secondary Traumatic Stress
  • Excessively worry or fear about something bad happening
  • Easily startled, or “on guard” all of the time
  • Physical signs of stress (e.g. racing heart)
  • Nightmares or recurrent thoughts about the traumatic situation
  • The feeling that others’ trauma is yours
Responder Self-Care Techniques
  • Limit working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts.
  • Work in teams and limit amount of time working alone.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Talk to family, friends, supervisors, and teammates about your feelings and experiences.
  • Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.
  • Know that it is okay to draw boundaries and say “no.”
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and use of alcohol.
It is important to remind yourself:
  • It is not selfish to take breaks.
  • The needs of survivors are not more important than your own needs and well-being.
  • Working all of the time does not mean you will make your best contribution.
  • There are other people who can help in the response.
Responding to disasters can be both rewarding and stressful. Knowing that you have stress and coping with it as you respond will help you stay well, and this will allow you to keep helping those who are affected.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Calling all birdwatchers

    Check out Birdability which promotes birding for everyone

    Through education, outreach and advocacy, Birdability works to ensure the birding community and the outdoors are welcoming, inclusive, safe and accessible for everybody. We focus on people with mobility challenges, blindness or low vision, chronic illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental illness, and those who are neurodivergent, deaf or hard of hearing or who have other health concerns. In addition to current birders, we strive to introduce birding to people with disabilities and other health concerns who are not yet birders so they too can experience the joys of birding. read more »
  • 9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

    Come and remember the people who were lost, first responders & survivors

    Events to honor the victims, first responders, and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. read more »
  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • 5 of the best movies your teen can watch at home

    Entertain your kids with these flicks from Netfilx

    Writing for Popsugar, Sabienna Bowman shares her top movie picks for teens read more »
  • Master P On Rap Feuds, Conscious Parenting, Black Superheroes

    Allison Kugel interviews this rap icon

    Interview with rap icon Master P by Allison Kugel. Here he talks about family and more. read more »
  • Cool new food savers from Lasting Freshness

    Vacuum seal your food to keep it fresh longer

    Using this patented handheld Vacuum System your food is preserved up to 5 times longer than food stored using conventional grocery storage methods. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • Dirty, sweaty laundry making your house stinky?

    Here is a great solution from STNKY

    STNKY Bags are the best way to sort, store, carry, wash and dry everything from sweaty gym clothes, laundry when you travel, scrubs, and just about anything else that gets dirty or sweaty. read more »
  • Get Green this September

    Be a Friend of the Environment

    NYS Department of Environmental Conservation offers tips on cleaning out your closet and recycling your discarded clothing. read more »