New online initiative may help first responders overcome PTSD

New online initiative may help first responders overcome PTSD

A former firefighter is working on an effective therapeutic approach to help first responders experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mike Clelland, who had suffered from PTSD, is collaborating with a team of local researchers to initiate an online program, E-Home Heroes. The program has a mechanism that allows the users to send immediate text during a crisis.

“I think it’s groundbreaking, and I think it’s going to do good things for first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress,” said attorney Clelland. He also said that the privacy feature in the program allows the users to seek help without bothering about the stigma attached to PTSD. “…this sort of takes that (stigma) away and allows them to treat privately,” Clelland said.

The founder, Rogers Karven, suggested that the program is already accessible to VA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Care First and a number of hospitals. However, it is for the first time that the online program will be available to first responders.

David Stern, another former firefighter, recalled how PTSD forced him to leave the Orlando Fire Department after 20 years of service. Highlighting the need for more resources to help first responders cope with the trauma they face every day, Stern said that initiatives like E Home Heroes would go a long way in saving lives of fellow firefighters. He was upbeat that such treatment approaches can also help prevent suicides and other associated problems.

Digging deeper into PTSD

The concept of PTSD, a common mental health problem caused due to witnessing or experiencing a brush up with death, has evolved over time. Generally associated with disturbing experiences of combat, different names were used to describe the feeling at different times of history. People referred to it nostalgia or soldier’s heart after the Civil War, shell shock post World War I, and battle exhaustion after World War II.

Generally, most of the people experiencing the aftermaths of traumatic experiences, including classic symptoms like numbness or hyperemotionality, anxiety and nightmares, recover within the first month. Nearly 10-20 percent people with PTSD continued to experience the symptoms or have lasting and potentially debilitating dysfunction.

Among people with PTSD, there is a greater need of recognizing each individual’s personal history, including belief systems, culture, social supports, prior experiences (trauma or resilience), and myriad other exacerbating and protective factors. Furthermore, researchers suggested that an individual’s physiological response to the experiences of a traumatic event pairs with previously neutral environmental cues, which continues to evoke a similar physiological response even after the actual event is over.

Dealing with PTSD

PTSD is common among emergency service providers and first responders. According to a Harris Poll survey, 90 percent of police officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and 80 percent of firefighters have undergone a traumatic event. A 2015 study shows that nearly 47 percent of firefighters and EMTs harbor suicidal thoughts.

Recuperation from PTSD may be difficult, but not impossible. While prescribing medications are common, doctors prefer to implement a comprehensive treatment procedure customized in accordance with the needs of patients in a bid to make it more effective. The efficacy of the treatment program mainly depends on the patients’ willingness to get rid of the incessant fear lurking inside them.

If you or your loved one is displaying signs of PTSD, it is time to seek expert advice. The 247 Mental Health Helpline can help people struggling with PTSD get credible information about the best mental health rehab center in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 for expert advice regarding mental health helpline. In addition, you can chat with one of our online representatives for more details.

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