On this episode of Inside EMS, co-hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson are joined by Dan Phillips, national director of Responder Health, who speaks with the co-hosts about first responder mental health and how to make a difference.
As most are aware, 2020 was an immensely difficult year for many people, particularly first responders, who were on the frontlines and exposed to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. From risking exposure to the disease to responding to crisis situations exacerbated by nearly a year of isolation, first responders are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and trauma. And, unfortunately, many don’t have the tools to deal with these extreme emotions in a healthy way.
“After 28 years as a first responder, and as someone who battled PTSD, the one thing I believe that all first responders have in common is that they are more focused on helping others rather than taking care of themselves,” Phillips said. “In the midst of this pandemic, our first responders need to be making sure that they are taking care of themselves and the other first responders around them. If they aren’t, they cannot effectively help those they are serving.”
Phillips says intervention from a colleague led to him finally seeking treatment after experiencing severe PTSD stemming from his response as a first responder to the Pentagon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Now, Phillips hopes to pay it forward and serve as a mentor for others, as his colleague did for him.