occupation, train them to be resilient, eliminate the stigma of mental health issues and decrease the number of suicides in our ranks.
Following our meeting at NAEMSP, we attended a powerful and
inspirational session on resiliency presented by U.S. Air Force Col.
Chetan Kharod, MD, MPH. It was almost prophetic, as his words
echoed those in our meeting notes.
Karod noted that, although firefighters, EMS personnel and law
enforcement officers embody a proud tradition of compassionate,
selfless service, the reality is that many of these special men and
women will encounter emotions and situations beyond the range
of normal human experience over the span of their careers. Similar
experiences to this were seen in the U.S. Special Operations community, where senior leaders realized that preservation of the force
and family is essential. Responders will often continue to persevere
and serve even as the service they render takes its toll on their own
physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being.
Over the next few weeks, Monique and I reached out to agencies and organizations to determine if there was interest in the formation of an industry-wide alliance to jointly attack the escalating
stress and suicide issues affecting paid and volunteer EMS personnel.
Although many of the associations had programs in existence or
under development, and others were aware and concerned about the
issues, our goal was to develop a unified group that would openly
acknowledge the problem, discuss it, and then collaborate and combine efforts to raise awareness, educate and develop resiliency training and best practices.
Every agency and association we approached wished to join the
alliance, pledging to work together with a unified voice.
When introducing the Alliance on EMS Resiliency in Salt Lake
City in February, I anncounced that our industry is united in acknowledging that suicide among emergency responders is a problem that’s
no longer acceptable and that critical stress training and prevention
measures were long overdue.
The announcement was greeted enthusiastically. And, although
JEMS is a founding organization and will act as the primary media
partner for the alliance, I invited representatives from other media
outlets such as EMS World and EMS1 to participate.
The initial members of this amazing alliance are listed here so
you can see and appreciate who they are. Why did so many associations, each with their own specific needs, programs and agendas,
and who often strive to be unique and different from one another,
agree to come together? Because it’s a common cause, and stress
Stress will attack anyone who’s vulnerable, and we’re all vulnerable. Stress and suicide is an issue that exists and permeates in all
levels of emergency response organizations, from dispatchers to first
responders, EMTs and paramedics, flight crews and ED staff. None
of us, and more importantly, none of our personnel, are immune to it.
COMMITTING TO CHANGE
The Alliance on EMS Resiliency and its member organizations want
to help you recognize stress that may be crippling you internally and
affecting your ability to do your job, get along with your co-work-
ers, relate your concerns to your family members and friends, shed
the demons that lurk in your brain and haunt you, and enable you to
harden yourself against them, sleep peacefully and move on.
At the inaugural meeting, member organizations committed to
working under a common mission statement and agenda, agreed to
explore the possibilities of specific initiatives to address mental health,
social strength and physical fitness for their members and agreed to
use proven science and programs properly vetted through experts in
this area to ensure you receive education in resiliency and to provide
mental health assistance and care when you need it.
Most importantly, we have all pledged to help change our indus-
try’s culture by eliminating the stigma behind discussing stress and
to encourage people to seek out mental health assistance.
We want you to know that we have your back. JEMS
1. Callahan P, Marks M, Grill M, et al: First response resiliency. One TreePsych: 2013.
2. Nanavaty B; Hofmann D. (January 2014.) Why officers and agencies fail: A case for resiliency
in policing. Legal and Liability Risk Management Institute. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from
3. Newland C, Barber E, Rose M, et al. Critical stress: Survey reveals alarming rates of EMS provider
stress and thoughts of suicide. JEMS. 2015; 40( 10): 30–34.
ALLIANCE ON EMS RESILIENCY
American Ambulance Association (AAA)
Code Green Campaign
Department of Homeland Security
Georgia Office of EMS/Trauma
International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED)
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
International Association of Firefighters (IAFF)
International Critical Incident Stress Foundation
JEMS ( Journal of Emergency Medical Services)
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE)
National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP)
National Association of EMTS (NAEMT)
National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO)
National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA)
National Registry of EMTs (NREMT)
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
Safe Call Now
Strub Caulkins Center for Suicide Research
Texas Office of EMS/Trauma System
The Paramedic Foundation
U.S. Military Department of EMS & Disaster Medicine