Paramedics are only ever a 999 call away from an experience that could change their lives forever. While some might have the good fortune never to have to respond to an emergency like the Grenfell Tower fire or the Manchester Arena bombing, others will have to live with the consequent brain scarring.
According to the mental health charity Mind, ambulance laborers are twice as likely to suffer mental health problems than the general public – but they are also much less likely to reach out for support.
So who is there to help the people who help us at our times of greatest need?
‘I thought it would never alter me’
Father-of-four Dan Farnworth says a 999 summon he attended in 2015 wholly changed his life.
He had been with North West Ambulance Service since 2004 as emergency measures medical technician, but a callout to the scene of a assassinate of a child hit him hard.
“Before this happened, I felt I was immune to mental health issues – it would never feign me, ” the 32 -year-old said.
At first he precisely felt low, but after about 24 hours he realised he was still struggling.
“I couldn’t shake the image of the child.”
Dan met it reformed the practice he behaved, both at work and with their own families, and he suffered nightmares.
He eventually reached out to friend and fellow paramedic Rich Morton – something he says saved his life because it stimulation him to get help.
Dan was signed off work for five months with post-traumatic stress disorder( PTSD ).
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The sidekicks eventually went on to set up their own charity called Our Blue Light, of which Dan says he is “immensely proud”.
They work to open up discussions about mental health issues in the emergency services and to make sure people know what to do when a colleague is in mental health crisis.
“It isn’t something you’re taught; we may learn CPR but not what to do when it is a mental health problem – and it is so important.”
He has also worked with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of their Heads Together campaign.
Dan has recently been awarded a Churchill Fellowship, which will fund a errand to the United Regime and Canada to research each of these reports for Parliament about how their emergency services tackle the issue of mental health.
He said: “I feel fairly good at the moment, I have taken a lot of comfort from being able to help other people.
“I’ve likewise built up my own resilience and have been able to accept that it isn’t always going to be OK. I’m more self-aware, which is a great thing.”
‘We are not superhuman’
“There is this picture I’ve seen of Superman and he’s in the supermarket and he is crying his eyes out, ” said 52 -year-old Esmail Rifai, a ex-serviceman of 27 years with North West Ambulance Service.
“That is how I felt at the time. People receive us as superheroes, that we can do anything, but in reality we can go home and, quite often, can have a massive breakdown.”
Two years ago, he had a brain failure and wasted time off work from his persona as a paramedic to receive one-to-one counselling.
He said: “I remember all the horrible jobs to this day. Not merely visually; the smell, the flavor in my mouth. I ponder[ this is] something everyone from the emergency services will find.
“For me, my dislocation was a combination of lots of different things: the pressures of operate, that knock-on effect on your personal life – you can’t help but take stuffs home.”
But shortly after Esmail came back to work, a peer kill herself. He told you he felt “personally at fault”.
“I could have spoken to him, could have helped him. I was upset that he didn’t open up to anybody, or felt he could not open up to anybody.
“I visualized, ‘I need to think, I need to do something, to avoid them getting to that stage in life where they feel they have nothing to live for’. It facilitated me to focus on something.”
Esmail now works for the ambulance busines as a clinical refuge practitioner and with the benevolence Mind as one of its Blue Light Champions, promoting its project.
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