“Those Are The Ones That Stay With You." - Looking at How First Responders Are Affected by Traumatic Events

I became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the summer of 2001. After completing my certification, I started working with my town’s ambulance service. I lived in a small town in rural Vermont, and the ambulance calls were rarely anything like you see on TV or hear about from larger cities, but we certainly kept busy.

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Most of our calls were to the local ski area, and the nursing homes, and the occasional car accident. Most of them were pretty non-eventful and I don’t remember them. But some of them were really bad and those did have a lasting negative effect.

I started “dealing” with the emotional toll like a lot of my peers, I went out after the call was over and drank. In other words, I didn’t deal with it at all. The stress and trauma was doing damage to me physically and emotionally, and if I didn’t change, I was going to get a whole lot worse.

I wanted to keep being a good EMT, a great Nurse, and a patient and kind partner and mother.  I learned ways to process those traumatic memories without having to talk about them, relive them, or feel vulnerable. I used tools that didn’t involve talk therapy, opening up, or losing control. And now I don’t struggle with those traumatic memories any more. They don’t “haunt” me or affect me negatively.

Now I’m able to look back now with a new perspective on how this “tough-guy-stuff-your-feelings” mindset gets going, is reinforced, and can be broken without anyone looking “soft.”

You aren’t alone. You don’t have to self-medicate or “just get through it,” and it doesn’t have to “stay with you.”

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Karen Gray CH, RN

Karen Gray is a Certified Hypnotist, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at karengray@greenmountainhypnosis.com, or (802) 566-0464..


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