Wildfire season has hit many on the west coast especially hard this year. Firefighters are on the front lines in these areas exposing themselves to stressors like smoke inhalation, extreme heat, quick high-risk decisions, and witnessing the tragedy of death and destruction. EMDR therapists can help this population cope with these stressors and regain resilience. In the first article below Sara Gilman, PsyD, LMFT discusses the importance of firefighters, the issues they often struggle with and presents best practices when working with this population. Further down the page there are some additional articles and videos highlighting the stories of firefighters who have found success coping with stress symptoms using EMDR therapy.
Gilman, S. (2018). Firefighters and EMDR. Go With That, 23(4), 16-19.
“Mental illness and the safest, most effective ways to support it among firefighters has been in sharp focus of late. The Glendale Fire Department [in Arizona] is one of the busiest fire departments in the U.S. [They began a program that trained] firefighters to recognize trauma and how to approach colleagues when they have experienced trauma to urge them to seek further support. … Ms. Glenn [on-staff doctor] employs Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)… one of the heaviest hitters in both treating and mitigating trauma.”
Stockmar, S. (2020, Sept). Glendale Fire fights mental health issues head on. Daily Independent [news story].
“Fire Captain Stevens… ended up seeing a therapist who specializes in EMDR… the therapy used frequently for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress or similar mental health problems, including members of the military, rape survivors and first responders. EMDR… helped Stevens eliminate the nightmares and moderate his mood swings… Stevens said: “The stigma of going to seek therapy, it is not there anymore. It is more commonplace now than you think. Set your pride on the shelf and get the help you need.”
Canham, M. (2018, May 22). A formerly suicidal Salt Lake City firefighter got help – and now he’s urging other first responders to consider therapy. The Salt Lake Tribune [news story].
Salt Lake City, Utah Fire Captain Mike Stevens talks about PTSD, suicide and how EMDR helped in this 8 minute video.
Deputy Chief of Fire-EMS in Snohomish County, Washington Scott Dorsey tells his story with PTSD and how EMDR helped in this 7 minute video. Snohomish County Fire District 7. (2019, Mar 11). PTSD Outreach v2.