How first responders cope with trauma

Posted: 4:45 PM, Jul 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-05 01:01:12-04

When Saturday’s horrific call came across the scanner, first responders immediately knew their priority, to help the victims involved in the mass stabbing. That sense of priority then overcame doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, the second those responders walked through the doors of hospitals. 

Dr. Parker Fillmore, a trauma surgeon at Saint Alphonsus, says there was an even larger feeling of precedence when they found out most of the victims were children, “I think there’s an added sense of urgency and importance of what you’re doing... and so I think that comes out. You know, I’m a father of young children, and those could have been my kids.”

Something not everyone thinks about is the mental state of the heroes who show up first at a tragic incident, yet these professionals are expected to wake up and prepare themselves for the worst, the very next day.

Boise Fire Department Battalion Chief, Steve Rasulo, echoes the difficulty, “These are types of calls that throughout the rest of their career, and even after they’re done with their career, this will come back up in their minds from time to time.”

And it’s not always one incident in particular, but the accumulation of what these responders react to every day can build up, creating lasting effects. This adds to the importance of dealing with the trauma’s immediately after the fact.

Rasulo says as much education as possible beforehand is important, however, the followup is of even more importance, “A lot of it is educating them on what they may experience, the feelings they’re going to fee after seeing something that is traumatic in nature, and understand what that process is.”

Then helping them to understand that those feelings they are having are normal, but do need attention.