Managing workplace stress and illness is a key way to improve employee retention. This is very much needed among Ohio’s firefighters as there is a major shortage of them in the state, particularly in the Northeast. Applications for firefighter positions in some areas are down by 86% in just 10 years. Stress is a leading reason why people don’t want to become firefighters. But a new initiative in Springfield could help to overcome this.
A stressful career
Firefighting is one of the top 3 most stressful jobs, according to studies. There are plenty of reasons for this. They’re typically the first on the scene at traumatic events. Firefighters also have to make split-second decisions on how to proceed in an attempt to save people’s lives. Of course, firefighters also have to risk their own lives, too. You also need to take into account that they see life-changing injuries and regularly deal with death. All of this contributes to firefighter stress which can lead to illnesses, such as PTSD and depression. Research has found that firefighters are up to 160% more likely to have PTSD and 75% more likely to have depression than the general population.
The Ohio government has recognized the stress and pressure that local firefighters are under and have announced that the Springfield Fire Rescue Division will receive a wellness grant to the value of $111,559. The grant will allow Springfield firefighters to have wellness tests, peer support, and fitness training for a period of 2 years. It’s not yet been revealed what these wellness checks will entail. Typically, they’ll look for signs of stress and anxiety and will demonstrate ways firefighters can successfully handle these feelings. Suggested methods may include meditation, good nutrition, connecting with nature, and adopting a better sleep routine. Professional medical help may also be needed and talking therapies and medication may be recommended.
An abundance of support
This isn’t the first time that firefighters in Ohio have been given help to deal with stress. After it was revealed that more than 50% of first responders in Ohio had depression and 48% had anger issues, a First Responder Mental Health Awareness Summit was held. The summit aimed to encourage firefighters and other first responders to seek help for their mental health. Earlier this year, a Wellness Center just for first responders opened up in Columbus. The center offers a wealth of support, including yoga and meditation. Firefighters can get wellness checks, too. There are plans for the Center to add more physical support, as well as educate first responders on sleep and diet. They even hope to extend the service to individuals in the military and the loved ones of first responders.
It’s common for firefighters in Ohio and across the world to experience high levels of stress and illness. There’s no denying that it’s a tough job. So, it’s reassuring that there are multiple services across the state which aim to tackle these issues.