I am off to chat to some Emergency Agencies on Well – Being. I hope a few will take away some tips on dealing with a subject not often spoken about being part of being in an Emergency Service. In my early years it was never spoken about and it was a hard time for those who suffered as a result of their experiences.
It did not seem effect me till I had been in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams for over 15 years. It was in 1988 after Lockerbie that my life changed. Hopefully few will ever have to deal with such an event. Many of my team were very young yet had and were coping with tragedy on Callouts.
There was a culture especially in the military at the time that we rarely spoke about struggling with our mental health. When I asked for some counselling I was told to “man up” by the authorities and even a few other Mountain Rescue leaders. Yet few of any had seen what we had experienced. I stuck to my guns did my career no good but pushed them to help.
We only spent 3 days in Lockerbie the Army and Police moved most of the casualties as it was a scene of crime. That was very hard to appreciate at the time. There were lots of Agencies involved some like SARDA were there for months many still struggle with what they saw and did.
I have written before on the huge effect on me, my family and others. I hope my chat in Stirling will help others and learn from our mistakes. It’s taken me so many years to come to terms with the effect on me. I think meeting so many relatives in the USA on A Cycle to Syracuse cycle event in 2018 helped me so much.
Mountain Rescue has now a “well being” officer. Yet there is so much to do in this field. We can only learn from others and deal with the unspoken part of being in a Rescue Agency.
Please remember it’s good to talk after an incident and each person deals with every incident differently. Yet some of my toughest Team members have struggled over the years. I am often contacted to ask for help from past Team members in dealing with their demons.
Many families get in touch wanting to visit where their loved ones passed away. Most years I take folk to that area. For many it’s taken years to come to terms with how they lost a family member. Yet most get great peace. I have to be careful for myself at times when visiting these places and have now got a system that helps me cope. Have you ?
I feel that at times we risk our lives to save others, put our lives in danger for folk we do not know. Yet do we look after our own folk if they struggle? That includes our families who without their support we would struggle.
Top tip – if Trauma involved is in an incident keep the numbers involved in the recovery to a minimum “