Yesterday I was briefly interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire on her BBC2 Programme about the sort of experiences firefighters and control staff might experience following attending the Grenfell Tower Fire. This was based on the London Fire Authority providing up to 60 counsellors to support the active fire fighters and also control centre staff following the incident.
I was approached by BBC Journalist Sean Clare, based on my experience as a consultant offering training in Understanding Trauma and also having worked as a counsellor at the London Fire Brigade.
A traumatic incident doesn’t necessarily lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, but I said that even though Firefighters are usually very resilient people, it is important to provide support for firefighters and those who are exposed to a large amount of traumatic incidences in order to avoid a cumulative build up of traumatic stress.
For the first month following a critical incident, it is normal to experience signs of traumatic stress such as:
- Dry mouth
- Physically shaking
- Raised heart rate
- Sleep disturbances
- Flashbacks and intrusive thoughts
In this initial period, It is important to provide information and normalise the symptoms people may experience. However, if someone experiences these sort of symptoms for longer than 4 weeks then it may be that they are beginning to experience PTSD. In this case, it is important to encourage them to seek support in order to prevent the trauma going deeper into their body and to prevent PTSD.
Here’s the interview