Ode to the Mind of a Correctional Officer

by William Young

Editor’s Note: I wish to tank Officer Young for sharing his story. 

William Young

I hate that I’m at my best when I’m at work. For eight or twelve or sixteen hours a day, I am full of piss and vinegar. I’m upbeat and witty and I laugh and I joke and I do my best to promote an atmosphere of teamwork and positivity.

I am a performer putting on an act for my co-workers and our clientele. Hell, I may be the Celine Deon of the Correctional world.

I conversate and I deescalate. I investigate and I interrogate. I separate and I segregate.

I make small talk about sports and I field complaints. I make split-second decisions with long-lasting ramifications. Continue reading

We Are Not Damaged Goods (officer PTSD)

 

by Rick Neeley

Officer Rick Neeley

In 2006, my best friend and fellow police officer committed suicide while he was on the phone with me. I viewed the in-car camera footage of him shooting himself which lead to the onset of PTSD.

I lasted on the department another six months, and have struggled through PTSD which has led me on a path of suicidal thoughts, hospitalization, separation from my wife for a year and many struggles and battles on the road through the valley of the shadow of PTSD. Continue reading

The Call That Changed My Life Forever (death of a child patient)

by Mike Crowe

Editor’s Note: Over the years, I have received hundreds of articles from firefighters, EMS, officers, and so on. Mike’s article is by far one of the most poignant stories about his fight to LIVE in spite of his post-traumatic stress and to help others coping with the same.

WARNING: This article MAY be a trigger for some people

I grew up in a small town where the town siren would go off when there was a fire or an ambulance call. Every time I heard that I would run to the curb of my house to see the people responding and to watch the fire trucks and ambulance go by.

After a four-year stint in the Navy, I started to follow my dream of becoming a paramedic by getting my EMT-A certification. I worked for a short time as a volunteer before working for an ambulance company in Omaha, Nebraska primarily doing nursing home and hospital runs. The hospital in Omaha had its own rescue and ambulance, but I still got experience.

About six months after earning my EMT I decided to start my education towards my paramedic license by taking the EMT-I course. I continue to work as a part-time EMT for the town that I lived in doing primarily chest pain type calls, shortness of breath, diabetes, and an occasional car accident. My true first experience that I would call “real” was in Topeka, KS where I had moved so I could be closer to the college I attended to get my paramedic degree. Continue reading

Meeting My Psychotherapist

by Rob Leathen

I went public not for any sympathy and not for any pity but because I firmly believe that silence does nothing but strengthen stigma. Rob Leathen

Rob Leathen

So my first visit with my psychotherapist. How did it go? It was amazing! I was early, very early, as I always am. I sat in the waiting room looking around at all the signs, posters and books dealing with trauma, PTSD, support systems and the like. In that 20 minutes while I
sat there (yes I was that early), the gravity of why I was actually there set in and manifested itself as what I call an “almost”. For me an “almost” is defined as a welling up of emotions to the point of almost uncontrollably bawling my eyes out but then, as I have done so often before, stifling back those emotions and tears until those emotions and tears are no longer visible to the outside world. All part of that “mask” that many wear. Continue reading

Invisible Wounds

by Anonymous

Author’s Note: I would like to thank this brave officer and their spouse for sharing this article. I know it was not easy for them to lay out their lives as they did. If they can help one officer or first responder get help, the mission was accomplished. I encourage all who read this article to please share it with an officer or other first responder you may know. You may be saving a life.


I can’t un-see what I have seen

Ever since I was a little child, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a police officer. My parents would listen to my tale over and over again. After graduating from college, I accepted a position as a Director of Finance. My parents questioned me about my career choice knowing finance was not what I aspired to do. At 22, I knew this wasn’t going to be my permanent career as most people who just graduate take a transition job until the right one comes along.

Fast forward 10 years and I thought it was time to live the life I was meant to live…..to finally achieve my dream of being a police officer. I worked in a busy police department and eventually made rank. Continue reading

SUICIDE: The Mental Cost of Being a Firefighter

by Peggy Sweeney

“Training them to deal with trauma, stress, and grief is no less important than training them to be safe on the fire ground.”

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2010 it was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 38,364 deaths.  One of the major risk factors for suicide is depression, or a substance-abuse disorder — often in combination with other mental disorders. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. (Moscicki, 2001) Continue reading

Slow Death of a Firefighter

by Timothy O. Casey
Firefighter/Paramedic (deceased)

As a firefighter/paramedic for more than 30 years, I can safely say I have pretty much seen it all. I have seen death in every incarnation, and life as well. We on the front lines are not invited politely to join in the fray of life; no, we are thrust into chaos on a daily basis, it’s our job.

It is, to say the least, an unusual profession. No two days are alike, and no two emergencies are alike. The environment is rarely predictable and the events and people even more unpredictable. Yet we go.

Who takes care of us? Our families? They try, I know mine did. But the average or normal person cannot share our experience, they can’t imagine what we do or see.

I know that many days I felt like a human garbage collector, picking up the waste of society. People, although fascinated with the gruesome, macabre, or terrifying, only see it from a distance. We hold it in our hands and get it on the soles of our boots. Continue reading

When a Call Becomes All Too Personal (your child’s death)

by Tim Trickey
Captain, AEMCA
Advanced Emergency Medical Care Attendant [Paramedic]

Editor’s Note: Tim wrote this article in 2014 to help emergency responders cope with tragic calls, but most importantly, to share how he copes with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, Tim died on December 17, 2017. He leaves his wife and son to mourn his loss, as well as his crew and those whose lives he touched. Rest in peace, my friend.


I was asked by a very dear friend that has helped me through some very difficult years, to tell you about my daughter, Natasha.

I am a Paramedic in Ontario, Canada. Some of you may have been in the Kingston area where I am still working. Ten years ago, I was the supervisor of a small, rural volunteer ambulance service that, at the time, had a call volume of about 500 calls per year. Like most, we hope we never have to respond to family emergencies. But like all small communities, it is usually someone you know, or in my case, family. Continue reading

There Is No Superman! The Role of the Spouse in the Fire Service

by Peggy Sweeney

Editor’s Note: Although written for those in the fire service, you may apply the principles to all professions.

Peggy Sweeney

Over the years, I have been very fortunate to not only instruct firefighters on coping with traumatic loss and grief but many of their wives, partners, and family members as well. When I would ask them for comments, questions, or feedback, I usually got little or no response. Understandably, because spouses are very reluctant to talk in front of their firefighters about their feelings, their fears, or what is in their hearts. Many of them wonder why the warm, loving, and carefree person they married does not come home like that anymore.

I will tell you that I know what many of you fear: your spouse or partner may be struggling mentally and emotionally with the traumas of his or her job. You realize that what they see, hear and feel on a recurring basis is beginning to play a major role in how they view life, living, and their job. When the call goes well, life is good! When their best efforts to save a life or protect property from ruin do not end positively, it is a BAD DAY! Continue reading

EMDR: A Therapy Session to Deal with a Problematic Incident

by Rob Leathen

Editor’s Note: Please read Rob’s article that describes his PTSD and how it brought him to the brink of suicide. Instead, he chose life!

Rob Leathen

My therapy session starts like every previous therapy session, with idle chat with my therapist about how my previous week was. The conversation has nothing to do with any of my previous incidents I have responded to or current things we’re working on. Regardless of the topic of conversation, I immediately feel at ease and comfortable, a feeling that comes from being in this office with my therapist and her welcoming judgement free clinic. It is my safe place. It’s a feeling I look forward to as I travel to my appointment even though I know how my session will end.

We reach that inevitable point in my session where I can no longer consciously ignore why I’m there. In a very comforting tone I hear those dreaded words “let’s revisit that call again”.

Continue reading