Harsh Realities of Public Safety

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I know you probably wanted to read ‘feel good’ stories about public safety. Normally I would be more than happy to oblige. Today, however, I’m going to talk about the harsh realities of public safety that seem to get swept under the rug. My main focus will be on firefighters and medics/EMTs.

Health Risks

  • Medics/EMTs are 12.5% more likely to have career ending back injuries than the general public.
  • Close contact with blood and bodily fluids leaves medics/EMTs and firefighters vulnerable to contracting infectious diseases.
  • Firefighters have a 68% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general population. Those cancers include leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
  • Firefighters and medics/EMTs are often targeted for physical assaults.
  • Firefighters and medics/EMTs are more likely to suffer excessive hearing loss from constant exposure to loud noises, such as air horns, apparatus engines, sirens, and power tools used for forced entry and extrication work.

Mental Health/Suicide

  • More firefighters die of suicide than line of duty deaths.
  • As of June 19, 2019, there have been 97 law enforcement suicides verified by Blue HELP for 2019.
  • An additional 46 fire/EMS suicides have been verified by the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance.
  • These numbers only reflect confirmed suicides. The current estimate is that fire/EMS suicides are being undercounted by as much as 60 percent.
  • Firefighters and medics/EMTs suffer from nightmares, insomnia, intense stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among firefighters.

Those are just some of the facts I wanted to share. I think we have a tendency to forget that those in public safety are merely human. We may think that we’re superheroes sometimes, but we’re not. We’re susceptible to all the bad things in the world, too. We see and experience things that no one should ever have to see or experience. Despite everything listed above, each day LEOs, medics/EMTs, firefighters, and dispatchers don the uniform to try to make the world a better place. When you need us, we will be there.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

 

Story submitted by Ana-Maria

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