How EMS providers can manage chronic stress

From EMS1:

For first responders, stress occurs most often when responding to incidents and providing emergency medical care in some of the most dire circumstances. This type of short-term, moderate stress can actually be good for us as it encourages stem cell development that then grows into new brain cells, followed by improvement in learning and memory.

However, the problem occurs when stress becomes chronic, intense, or both, which can occur in the day-to-day activities of an EMS provider. Chronic and intense stress stunts stem-cell growth in our brains during the stress response, which can lead to limited new brain cell development.

Stress can also negatively impact EMS providers by causing an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, suppression of the immune system, reduction in fertility, higher-risk of miscarriage, and, most prominently, stress can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Over the past few years, there has been more awareness about PTSD and its effect on EMS providers. Thanks to awareness campaigns, educational outreach, and focused efforts to erode the stigma of asking for help, the EMS profession has made big strides in acknowledging mental health injuries.

However, EMS providers continue to face multiple sources of stress on a daily basis and more must be done to acknowledge and address these stressors in a healthy way.

Read more here.

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