Trauma among emergency responders and terrorism investigators: Suggestions for conducting needed research

Thomas J. Friedman, JD

Abstract


This article discusses the paucity of information that exists concerning the traumas and stresses that affect emergency responders (ERs) and terrorism investigators (TIs). There has not yet been an indepth, phenomenological, qualitative study examining the perceptions of ERs or TIs during and after emergency incidents to determine whether their experiences led to serious stress or trauma.
More research is needed concerning the work experiences of these individuals, which is often dangerous, sometimes taking place in horrific settings, and often occurring in high pressure and high profile situations. We do not know why some ERs and TIs are traumatized by their experiences and others are not. We do not know why some are able to cope with their various stressors in a healthy manner when others develop symptoms clearly indicative of acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We are not certain to what degree the severity of the trauma experienced directly affects the severity of these symptoms, and we have not studied the resultant ability or inability of ERs and TIs to continue to work and interact with family and friends.
By conducting additional studies on this topic, ERs and TIs can be taught better coping mechanisms, we can establish more proactive professional mental health responses, gain a more empathetic understanding of ERs and TIs, and help emergency and law enforcement organizations prepare more effective educational and training materials.


Keywords


emergency responders, terrorism investigators, acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2006.0031

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