Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
This review compiles significant literature documenting the occupational health effects of stress on first responders. A series of situational factors make first responders more susceptible to stress such as their frequent exposure to traumatic events, the susceptibility to do shift work, the long hours worked per shift, and the instability of daily job requirements and expectations. As a result of the highly stressful environment these individuals face, many may experience fatigue, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and in many cases suicidal ideations and PTSD. Certain factors may serve to protect first responder individuals from some of these stress effects, such as more years working on the job and camaraderie among their team. Literature discussing management strategies for these mental health ailments offer a variety of treatment solutions, but to date, the body of literature surrounding the first responder population specifically is limited and does not provide sufficient information to guide adequate treatment for these individuals. There is no question that first responders face stressful situations as a result of their occupational demands, this truth is on display now as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, and the literature is conclusive that a concerted effort needs to be made to provide better support options and improve cultural perceptions for first responders seeking help.