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Factors influencing first responders’ mental health during COVID-19

Aidan Peat, EMT-B, BS

Abstract


As the world adapts to the coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, healthcare professionals have been performing lifesaving medical interventions under intensely stressful conditions. First responders are a subset of this population that experience traumatic emergency situations daily while working in hazardous conditions during COVID-19. Past studies on first responders’ mental health have reported that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidality are higher than anticipated in this population. In order to understand the factors influencing mental health in first responders during COVID-19, a survey was distributed to a convenience sample of 415 emergency responders from across the country. This survey addressed the influence of demographics and COVID-19 on cumulative PTSD and stress scores; 67 percent of survey respondents indicated that they knew another first responder who has contemplated or committed suicide, with 11 percent of respondents indicating that they themselves have suicidal tendencies. The results determined a variety of factors that influence mental health in first responders including age, gender, diagnosis of a previous mental health disorder, and career vs. volunteer departments. This study emphasizes the role that government funding plays in ensuring mental health resource access for first responders. Furthermore, this study has revealed that improved agency safeguards against COVID-19 can help reduce stress in emergency services personnel during this pandemic.


Keywords


COVID-19, pandemic, first responder, mental health

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.0704

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