They’re the people we hold up on a pedestal as brave, strong and unbreakable. We like to think of them as different from us: superheroes who run into situations that the rest of us run away from.
We don’t deny that first responders are brave, and we very much acknowledge that they do amazing and important work – but they are certainly not unbreakable.
It is incidents like these that are renowned for creating psychological distress in first responders; the type of distress and trauma that leads them to suicide more than twice as often as the general population.
Such incidents also contribute to the one in four first responders who experience PTSD, particularly when they are left unsupported.
In order to continue doing this brave work, we need as a collective to give first responders permission to ask for help. An important step in doing this is to stop seeing them as different, and to start seeing them as humans.