What do you think of when you hear 'emergency.' Most people will answer 'first responders.' This is only natural since these are the people who are usually the first on the scene. They are the first to respond to any call for help. In fact, they are often our first line of defense against many horrific situations. Police, Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, and other first responders are heroes.
How do you put a cost on human life? It's a difficult situation. Unfortunately, it is something that does need to be addressed from a business standpoint. That is why the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently backed a paper looking at the national cost of suicides and suicide attempts in the United States. In 2013, that cost was $58.4 billion based only on cases that were actually reported, so the actual cost in financial terms could be much higher.
We came across an interesting article recently in Security Magazine, discussing the rate of PTSD among first responders. The author explained the situation pretty well in terms that will likely make sense to everyone when they stated that for most employees the worst thing that might happen during the average workday is failing to close a deal, missing a flight to get to a meeting or maybe getting stuck in traffic on the commute home. However, when you are a first responder like a firefighter, a police officer, military personnel, and so on - your workplace is routinely at the heart of danger and chaos.
The Ruderman Foundation has commissioned a white paper study that reveals first responders are more likely to die as a result of suicide than they are in the line of duty. The report states that in 2017, there were at least 107 firefighter suicides and 140 police suicides. This compares to 93 firefighters and 129 police officers who died in the line of duty. The study indicates that mental illness, including depression and PTSD, is a massive contributor to the first responder suicide rate thanks to ongoing exposure to death, trauma, and destruction.
A recent article published by American Addiction Centers discusses the importance of providing the right treatment for the mental wellbeing of firefighters and other first responders. One of the key points being that maintaining an optimum level of mental wellbeing is a crucial part of keeping them in active duty and making sure that they are effective on the job. Constant exposure to traumatic experiences, life-threatening situations, and long working hours can build up and take a negative toll on the mental health of first responders. This can lead to an increased risk of depression, PTSD, suicide, and substance abuse issues.