We want to help incident commanders find ways to reduce firefighter stress with tips and tools from American Trade Mark. With traumatic and destruction situations always one call away, it’s no wonder awareness about first responder mental health and instances of firefighter PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has increased. Fortunately, critical incident stress management starts with incident command.
Tips For Incident Commanders
Prevention is the best remedy for many adverse health effects in first responders, including mental health issues. Using incident command to manage firefighter stress can feel like a daunting task. The same fireground communication tools available for firefighter safety help in preventing and managing stress.
- Keep track of a rapidly changing fire scene to reduce personnel exposure to critical incident stress or trauma.
- Meticulously track your team and pull back extra personnel from scenes.
- Keep the incident command staging location away from high-stress exposure.
- Limit how long individuals are exposed to stressors on the scene.
Recording Information For Better Scene Analysis
Recording and communicating initial fire scene status helps you decide what resources and personnel are needed during emergency response. Command boards and incident command systems help you not only process the information you need, but track situations as they change so that you can make effective decisions with the stress levels of your first responders in mind.
Tracking Firefighters Can Decrease Stress
First responders are often the last people to think of self-care. They want to be doing and helping. Much of a firefighter’s job involves putting others and their safety first. As the incident commander, it will often be up to you to know who needs a break and make sure crews are appropriately rotated. Accountability systems that include accountability tag collection and firefighter tracking can help with this.
Using Resources Wisely
Knowing which team members are where on the scene, and keeping only those essentially necessary to the task, reduces the number of first responders exposed to many types of trauma. Relocating or releasing those who don’t need to be there can reduce stress incidents and encourage better mental health, department-wide.