Vital tool introduced to help traumatised firefighters

Vital tool introduced to help traumatised firefighters

Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) aims to encourage firefighters to talk about the impact of the harrowing incidents they attend
05 May 2016

They are the first on the scene of every disaster and tragedy.

Some are haunted by the horrific things they have seen or memories of people they were unable to save.

For years members of the emergency services have carried these harrowing images with them and suffered mental health problems in silence.

However, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is working to break this taboo with its Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) – Let’s Talk About It campaign.

The initiative is aimed at encouraging firefighters to be able to talk about these issues and ask for help whereas in the past many kept quiet through fear of what their colleagues would think.

Specially trained members of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service will now be on hand to discuss these traumatic incidents, provide help and see what other support is needed.

St Mary's station commander Nigel Cooper was part of a team saving lives after an earthquake in Turkey.

He said:

“I didn’t really have anyone to talk to and I felt that if I spoke about it I would relive it so I tried to shut it away. With my family I didn’t want to share the atrocities I’d seen.”

Firefighter Mark Hair was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2014 after experiencing nightmares, flashbacks and mood swings following a fatal incident.

He is now backing TRiM and providing peer-to-peer support for colleagues.

He said:

“I’ve been to many different incidents which have never affected me. One in particular did. Had I been through a TRiM process I believe I wouldn’t have been as unwell as I was.”

Redbridge Hill station commander Paul Riddell, who helped set up the campaign, said:

“The aim of TRiM really is to identify if you need further support.”

It is not only frontline staff who can suffer from PTSD. Many control room staff are affected by phone calls they have taken.

Control watch manager Alli Burrows said:

“I’ve certainly been aware of some of my staff who have been quite deeply affected. Things they have heard that obviously stick with them.

“We take calls and we hear things and we build pictures in our heads.”

Wellbeing advisor Emma Liddell said these experiences can affect family relationships.

She added:

“I think it’s important for people to have that way of being able to offload and check they are okay rather than taking it home with them.

“TRiM is a peer support mechanism and it’s a way of peer-to-peer people having a conversation. It’s literally just a conversation.”

Other emergency services also use TRiM.