Health & Safety

Post-Traumatic Growth: Normal Reactions to Abnormal Incidents

Issue 12 and Volume 172.

We all gain valuable tactical and skill-oriented fireground lessons from close calls we experience. Immediately after the tactical after action review (AAR), the close call is over for the people who witnessed it. It may never be over for the firefighters who lived through it and experienced it. Left unrecognized and untreated, this significant emotional event could become a negative issue with lasting consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder. On the positive side, a close call—the near death experience—may change you very favorably through post-traumatic growth. Chief Bobby Halton noted this in “Post-Traumatic Growth” (Fire Engineering, Editor’s Opinion, December 2016): It is true we are at risk; even the strongest among us in the most supportive and just environments can develop PTSD, but we can emerge from trauma experiencing various degrees of post-traumatic growth (PTG). What we must begin to do now is share the new message of exposure to…

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