Lately there has been a lot of media attention about First Responders getting protection re: PTSD. Unfortunately the coverage can be slanted heavily towards the drama and NOT the solutions which can just escalate the fear for anyone who is in these occupations. So what can you do as a lay person to be sensitive towards this? Firstly, don't ask "So what is the worst call you've been on and what was the worst part of that for you?" .......especially if you are in a social situation! Try focusing on the fact that you've heard that they have presumptive legislation now that assumes that the First Responder has issues due to their occupation and not prior history. Or ask....are you OK with talking about your job? What is the part you like the best about your job? If you want to touch on the hard parts that you may be curious about then ask if they are OK with you asking them about that first. But mostly, focus on gratitude. I don't know of a First Responder that has gone into their occupation without part of it being about just wanting to help people. When I went to New York after 9/11, one of the most frequently heard comments that I had from the Police Officers was that they were buoyed by the compliments and expressions of gratitude from other New Yorkers in the aftermath. Once again, love and kindness is always the healing force and not the drama or sensationalism.
And here is a poem written by a First Responder re: what it is like to be asked that kind of question in a social situation:
***CAUTION*** This poem is VERY graphic and can be triggering due to it's explicit content. Please don't read it if you don't tend to have the stomach for gory details or explicit language.
Thank you again to all of the First Responders in our area that protect and take care of us in our times of need.