Reservist

ISS1 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Mental Preparedness for First Responders: Preparing for the Disaster The Department of Homeland Security encompasses 23 components that are on the daily forefront of domestic security. In addition, many DHS agencies have personnel who play first responder roles and are deployed to natural or manmade disasters in the United States. These agencies include the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, and the Office of Operations Coordination. As a member of the Coast Guard, I have been a part of the DHS since its founding in 2002. I experienced a sudden recall to active duty from the Coast Guard Reserve, following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I had just transitioned out of active duty two weeks prior to the attacks. I was driving to prepare for a new civilian management career when I received the call that I was to report to Coast Guard Station Miami Beach immediately. I remained on active duty there and conducted homeland security operations for the next four years. Transitioning to an unexpected Title 10 recall following the terrorist attacks placed stress on my family and me. We addressed it through exercise, the development of a proper work-life balance and peer support. I've witnessed several other incidents when Coast Guard and DHS personnel were temporarily reassigned from their daily work to assist in natural or manmade disasters away from home. While these responses are important and part of the job, it is also important to examine and mitigate the stress all response personnel face in an emergency. Emergency personnel who respond to disasters experience a wide range of physical and mental health issues. As a result, it is important to take steps to mitigate the effects of responding to these emergencies. Step 1: Have a Family Preparedness Plan in Place Personnel who may be recalled to emergency responder status should have a written plan prepared well in advance. This plan should be coordinated with family members. It should account for child care, finances (including emergency cash on hand) and changes in work schedules. The written plan should also take into consideration that communications may be limited during an emergency. Accordingly, the plan should include emergency contact information for family members and work supervisors. When emergency responders feel confident that their priorities at home are being met, they will be much more effective and focused while in an emergency response role. Step 2: Complete Deployment Training in Advance DHS agencies often train emergency personnel on mobilization and demobilization. It is important to complete this training, which gives personnel information explaining the different resources and support available to them. Step 3: Self-Monitor for Problems Following an Event Emergency responders who are exposed to disasters are at an increased risk of acute stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional problems. DHS personnel and other first responders should learn the signs of emotional problems and PTSD. Symptoms include difficulty moving beyond emotional feelings about an emergency incident, difficulty sleeping and depression. Studies show that emergency responders are at a substantially higher risk of depression seven months following their participation in a disaster. They are also at a higher risk of acute stress disorder and PTSD 13 months later. Young, single emergency responders are more likely to develop acute stress disorder than older and more experienced responders. Emergency responders should monitor themselves for signs that they are struggling with their participation in a disaster and seek counseling and guidance through their agency's Employee Assistance Program. — Submitted by Dr. Jarrod Sadulski This article was originally published on EDMDigest.com through American Military University. Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is a faculty member and a 21-year veteran of the Coast Guard Reserve. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security, contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering. He is a chief petty officer in the Coast Guard Reserve, assigned as the senior enlisted reserve advisor (SERA) at Station Lake Worth Inlet, Fla. e mergency personnel who respond to disasters experience a wide range of physical and mental health issues. a s a result, it is important to take steps to mitigate the effects of responding to these emergencies. 46 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2018

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