2023 LexiPol survey findings highlight that first responders are dealing with high levels of stress and staffing shortages, leading to recruitment and retention challenges, insufficient resourcing, and a negative impact on communities.
65% of first responders’ organizations are facing staffing shortages
47% are battling low morale in their departments and respondents who work at ECCs were 52% more likely than average to face issues with morale
6 in 10 first responders have witnessed an incident in the past 12 months that impacted their mental health
55% of EMS, fire, and 911 ECC workers and 82% of law enforcement officers worry about how their job impacts their physical health
Data from the NVDRS indicates that first responders made up 1% of all suicides
When broken down by response discipline, these first responder suicides occurred among law enforcement officers (58%), firefighters (21%), EMS providers (18%) and public safety telecommunicators (2%). --FEMA.gov
• Fear and worry: Children of first responders constantly worry about their parent’s safety and the risks associated with their job.
• Separation anxiety: First responders often have unpredictable schedules that can include long shifts, overnights, and unexpected emergencies. This can make it difficult for children to spend time with their parent and can cause feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
• Trauma exposure: Children of first responders may be exposed to traumatic events through their parent’s work. They may hear about or witness accidents, injuries, and other traumatic incidents, which can have a lasting impact on their mental health and well-being.
• Social isolation: First responders often have limited time to participate in social activities or attend events with their families, which can cause children to feel isolated or left out.
• Stigma and discrimination: Children of first responders face stigma and discrimination from others who do not understand the challenges and sacrifices associated with their parent’s job. This can lead to feelings of isolation and a sense of not belonging.
During a response, first responders face the most risk factors, including proximity to and length of exposure to the disaster, dealing with serious injuries and deaths, becoming emotionally involved, poor support from leadership and lack of interagency collaboration, not having enough information, low perceived safety, and being injured mentally or physically while on the job. It is crucial to reduce mental health risk to first responders.
--Rural Health Info Org
• long distances and challenging terrain that prolong emergency response and transport times,
• insufficient payment by insurers to cover standby and fixed costs,
• a changing workforce that has historically relied on volunteers but increasingly must include paid personnel, --Rural Policy Research Institute