The one downside of putting out a magazine every other month is that I can’t address the changes and concerns for our profession month to month. In one issue I have to address the celebrations of our Independence Day, now well behind us, and the pending return to school some of our readership is facing in just a few days (as this is released). Labor Day, the first Monday in September marks the unofficial end of summer and I feel like we were all just celebrating the end of school/beginning of summer.
So, welcome to August. Hopefully this is the last truly hot month of the summer, but don’t forget we have two(+) months left of hurricane season (for you east coast and golf coast folks). Pools will be shutting down… BBQs will become less frequent and folks will being going on those last summer vacations they can squeeze in. MAKE SURE YOU DO.
While I was attending the Police & Security Expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey, I met a woman named Jennifer Anderson who founded an organization called First Responder Coaching. Jen had first hand experience in dealing with first responder stress and she was driven to start an organization that helps first responders recognize, manage and mitigate the effects of that stress. Now, no… First Responder Coaching isn’t the first such organization… and hopefully it won’t be the last. Stress and trauma exposure for first responders still isn’t something that is addressed adequately and the stress management skills we get taught in the academy aren’t nearly sufficient.
My conversations with Jen and others at the show made it clear that first responder exposure to stress and trauma is something that’s slowly getting more attention and tools are being made available to help manage such. One of the things we should all be doing is taking our time off and enjoying our support system, however it exists in your world. Family? Friends? Hobbies? Quiet peacefulness away from the place you usually work? All of these things need time devoted to them. Do that… and consider whether or not you are experiencing an overload of stress. If so, what else do you need to do to manage it? If not, is there someone you work with who might be? And how can you help them manage it?
I’ve always believed that mentorship should be a mandatory part of the promotional process. While most agencies get somewhat close via their Field Training Officer programs, some agencies discourage any type of personal relationship between the FTO and the trainee. And, once the FTO program is done, the trainee (out on his or her own and without the camaraderie of the experienced officer beside them) might find it difficult to deal or cope with some situations, given the lack of someone senior/more experienced to discuss it with. If that’s you, go talk to your corporal or sergeant. If you are the corporal or sergeant, look for the signs of stress overload in your squad. There is no good reason why any of us should ever become a stress or trauma exposure casualty.