Healing from Trauma in the Fire Service

Oct 30, 2019

Listening to today’s news on the release of the Grenfell Tower Fire Report, my heart again goes out to those brave servicemen and women who undoubtedly are still battling with the trauma of the unforgettable tragic events on 14th June 2017.  The work for all personnel in the fire and rescue service impacts their wellbeing.  They have the most stressful job in civilian society.  Those involved in Grenfell Fire and Rescue from the switchboard operators to those on the front line have and will continue to feel the trauma.  

They will hold tension in their body.  The tension is all stored in the body’s muscle memory, in particular, the psoas muscle.  Most people have no idea where the Psoas is.  The psoas is our fight/flight centre and the place where we hold emotions.  If the body holds all the tension from life it eventually leads to debilitating symptoms, physically, mentally and emotionally.  What else is there then aside of counselling or talk therapy?   How do we find real healing?  Prescription drugs of course but there are far too many deaths by drugs.  They only mask the problems anyway, especially when they are for anxiety and depression. Self-medication is no answer either.

As Professor Gordon Turnbull, a highly esteemed Consultant Psychologist said to me when we first connected. ‘We now know we have to get it out of the body as talking just doesn’t do it’.  We have discussed many a time the impact of holding stress in the body.

Men and women embarking on their career in Fire & Rescue Service undoubtedly feel excited and tough.  One Fireman shared with me ‘I was 23 when I joined up at the time. I felt invincible as you do, being a young man. Life and my career ticked by having good and bad incidents but never really noticing any mental challenges.’

When I asked when that all changed he said ‘My life seemed to be going great and then 16 years ago – crash, never saw anything coming. What would be the highlight of your career pulling someone alive from a burning building, actually left me broken due to the conditions we endured.  It took me 6 hours to get home such was my shame that I could not cope.’ He had counselling provided by the Fire Service at the time but said he felt worse as it never had answers.ire and rescue Serviceire

It was not until earlier this year that a series of events left him in a bad way he shared with me what he felt.   ‘immense anger, breaking down in tears for what would be a simplest of issues, thinking of suicide. Yes, I would say at rock bottom. At that crossroads live or end it.’ Like so many other stories we have heard from servicemen and women.

He was at this low point in his life. A friend who had been in a bad way suggested he attended a Total Release Experience® Workshop. After that day he later shared. ‘Walking from the workshop it was like walking from a dark room to brilliant light. The difference from the start to finish of the day. The subsequent days could take things in again. I could start to understand documents again. I just felt if this is life, I want some of this. You never notice the small changes and I hadn’t realised the world I had ended in.’

As part of a wellbeing committee and a wellbeing champion, someone who is listed to help support or just listen to others if they need that friendly ear. The Total Release Experience® should be taught to all staff and new recruits. It’s a life tool that would save a lot of people like myself. Enduring a career of mental injuries that never manifested till it’s too late.’

We are passionate about sharing the education of teaching how it is indeed possible to recover from the brink.  The memories never fade. But one can talk without holding on to the feelings and the emotions. Holding on just keep compacting in the body if not released. A simple, yet empowering practice, especially for the service sector. They all need something that they can use to heal from the past and build resilience. Life can be bright and beautiful once more.  Thank you to all those heroes in our country.  They sign up to save our lives but should not be left fighting for theirs.

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