Safe Call Now

Monday, September 4, 2017

First Responder Burnout and Disaster Work

By Dr. Tania Glenn
During large scale events and disasters, first responders (police, fire, EMS, communications and hospital personnel) who are a little, somewhat, or very burned out often experience significantly more complicated burnout at the end of a disaster. Burnout is the result of coupling extremely high, sometimes unrealistic expectations with good intentions, and not having enough balance in one’s life.
The onset of burnout happens slowly. The process is hard to identify because it can be quite subtle. It happens like this: You enter a career to help others. You work hard and love your job. You put in a lot of hours, work overtime or second jobs, and surround yourself and your life with things and people that are associated with public safety. You work holidays and weekends because emergency services never rest. For a while, this feels great. 

Over time, however, you realize that the majority of what you deal with is the dark and negative side of life. You respond to those who have called 911 only to be met with anger, hostility, disrespect, apathy and sometimes aggression. You see some horrible things. You witness death and trauma. 

To further the process along, you begin to experience the effects that shift work and working on holidays can have on your personal life. If you are single, it is hard to meet people. If you are married, you notice the strains that your job places on your loved ones. You no longer have friends outside of work, and in your mind, you can never really get away from work. At the same time, you may be going through a major life challenge like a divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one. These types of events are highly demanding of emotional and physical energy at a time when you have very little energy to give. Your personal energy gauge is chronically on empty.

Then we ask you to go to a disaster and give 150% of yourself, possibly more than once. While deployed, burnout sits on the back burner because the mission is so important and meaningful. At this point I warn first responders to not get sucked into the notion that your burnout is no longer there because you are feeling great about the mission. Instead, be prepared for your burnout to be exacerbated upon your return home. Be prepared so you can tackle it.



Monday, August 21, 2017

So When Did Chiefs Become Politicians???

By Safe Call Now


So when exactly was it when Chiefs (Police, Fire, Corrections, EMS, etc.) became politicians?  When did the crossover occur?  I’ve often wondered about this as I watch many events unfold around the country and I see firsthand our 1stresponders being sacrificed due to political reasons to appease others that are within local, state and federal government.  I’m not seeing these leaders step up for their personnel because it’s the “right thing” to do.  Not all of them but I get it under this current climate which still doesn’t make it right.

If you’re pressured as a Chief to fire someone, bring undue punishment on them and those orders are coming from above, you’re going to do it, whether it’s wrong or not.  You have three daughters in college, a mortgage, a car payment…  You’re not going to throw that away to stand up for your personnel and do the right thing.  The day that local, state and federal administrations made the Chiefs part of the decision making process, they essentially became politicians.  You had no choice.  Funny thing about politics is that it is (as my dear friend Charlie Fuller says) a “Befriend and Betray” system.

You pretend that everyone are “brothers and sisters” within the thin blue line, you reinforce it, you have their backs…  Then you have to make a political decision and sacrifice the 1stresponder even though you know it’s wrong.  Befriend and betray… and we wonder why we’re in the situation we’re in.  The day that Chiefs became politicians is the day you lost control of your department.
When I first started in law enforcement in 1987, Chiefs were Chiefs.  They lead and motivated others.  They made decisions and when you were wrong, you were going to know about it, get the appropriate discipline and move forward.  Loyalty, it was there.  No more.  As those of you on the frontline day in and day out do the right thing and protect us, remember you will not necessarily be protected by your own leaders.  The political ones anyways.

Become a great self-leader and always remember that politics is a “Befriend and Betray” system that can only bring you grief.  Stay safe out there, look out for each other and remember…  We need you!!! 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Doctors Think They Know Everything...




Let me tell you about a recent interaction I had with multiple doctors while trying to place a first responder into treatment.  Doctors (most like any profession) do amazing work, have incredible knowledge but when it comes to their overall education on addiction, they don’t know s%&t.  This first responder finally wanted help and turned to the system.  This person was in acute intoxication and sought help through the medical system.  I personally drove the first responder to the emergency room upon his request as the alcoholism was at such a level it was in my estimation impacting their health and wellness.  This first responder is also a long time drinker, with multiple relapses and was drinking a minimum of a 5th of vodka a day.


I’ve placed 100’s of first responders into treatment over the years and have never ran into anything like I did today.  I already had medical assisted detox, residential treatment and a sober escort set up for the first responder.  Problem was, they were still too intoxicated to get on the plane.  Standard protocol would be to stabilize the first responder, sober them up as much as possible through medication and get them on the plane.  It should be noted that in the home town of this first responder there are no adequate treatment centers or detox facilities as they are all the ones where this first responder takes the people they encounter, arrest and commit.


In the ER the doctor refused a standard taper protocol to be able to get this first responder to travel on the plane due to the fact that if they took all of the pills at once they could overdose and die, too much liability for him.  Really???  Doesn’t that go for just about any medication you prescribe?  He had no response for me when I posed that question to him.  I then asked him what about seizures and if the first responder could receive any of that to avoid a potentially deadly situation.  The doctor again refused saying they monitor severe alcohol withdrawal through fluids.  Again… are you kidding me?  I asked the doctor if he was asking the first responder to go “cold turkey” which we both know can be deadly.  He said no, but didn’t feel comfortable prescribing any medication which should be noted is used nationwide throughout the medical industry.  Obviously the doctor did not like to be challenged and our communication broke down and we left.  What a joke.