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Addicted to Your Job?

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Written by Jeff Dill, retired Captain and founder of Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance

Are we addicted to the Job?

It is a simple question. Are we addicted to our jobs and is there a consequence that we pay because of our dedication? As you know I founded Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance in 2011 to track and validate our brothers and sisters who have taken their lives and to never forget them or their families.

Yet, these four years of traveling across the U.S. and Canada has afforded me the opportunity to theorize on some issues because of the thousands of people we have seen and spoken with. So, this is my theory only, but hopefully it will spark some thoughts and ideas within each of you that this would apply to. I started many years ago as a paid on call FF for Rutland-Dundee FPD and went to career in 1995 for the newly established Palatine Rural FPD in IL. I can recall many of my new brothers and sisters had outside jobs. Their talents of construction, roofing, landscaping, painting and other jobs kept them busy while earning some extra money. We would discuss how other FFs in surrounding departments had similar jobs so if you needed a tree removed you would call “Joe” at a neighboring department. Lately what I  have seen through my travels, is an issue that perhaps is adding to the already stressful job we have and creating more and more behavioral health issues for our brothers and sisters.

What is the issue? I have seen more firefighters and EMTs taking second jobs in other fire departments and EMS organizations. They leave one job and head to the second one for another shift, be it a twelve hour or twenty-four hour shift. They are constantly running fire and EMS calls. My concern is, when do you take time to process and rejuvenate your brain based on all the horrific calls that you see? I commend those for their dedication but I also have concerns that burnout could become a real issue and maybe sooner than later. How many of you have spent the day after shift reflecting on calls you went on the previous day? The days off, especially for EMS, are there for you to recover not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. If there are no gaps between how does our brain ever take a day off from the stress of the jobs?

In the coming year FBHA will be looking more into this issue but I wanted to throw this out there for you to comment on and tell me if you agree or disagree with my theory.

Stay safe my brothers and sisters and PLEASE SHARE….Thanks! Jeff

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