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Almost 90% of Tempe firefighters and ambulance personnel have responded to 'high-stress incidents' this year

KPNX-TV Phoenix logo KPNX-TV Phoenix 6/17/2021 Colleen Sikora
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High-stress incidents come with the job when you work in public services agencies like fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement.

However, Tempe Fire and Medical Rescue are keeping track of how many of their employees are responding in hopes of getting the help they need.

88% of Tempe Fire has responded to high-stress incidents in 2021

Tempe Fire and Medical Rescue said that as of June 14, their crews have responded to 210 high-stress incidents.

These calls consist of things like drownings, anything involving children, and other traumatic calls.

“Everybody processes these calls differently, they process the amount of them differently,” Deputy Chief Mark Manor said.

So far this year, 171 of their employees have been on one of those 210 calls. That makes up 88% of their firefighters and ambulance personnel.

Manor said he was surprised that not every member had been on a high-stress incident this year.

“You don’t get to choose which calls you go on,” Manor said. “And we run, you know, 20,000 plus calls a year and eventually you’re going to be on those calls,” Manor said.

High-stress incidents are marked to help identify members that may need help

On Saturday, a call came over the radio that began with fast-paced beeps. It called out several crews to respond, ending in a single word: “Drowning”.

Tempe Fire crews went to a home near McClintock Drive and Warner Road where a two-year-old boy had drowned in a pool.

“We see everything,” Manor said.

Just last month, Tempe experienced a weekend where a mom was accused of killing her two kids, another child drowned, and a little girl got a hold of a gun and accidentally shot and killed herself.

“Some of them [responders] had had had 10, 12 or 14 of those calls,” Manor said. “That’s several a month. And when is enough, enough? To where we reach out to them and give them the resources that they need to help protect themselves and help themselves with their own wellness.”

Manor said that even if a call isn’t typically considered a high-stress incident, whoever is filling out a chart on the call can mark it as such.

Manor said that the department then follows up with employees to help direct them to resources, whether it’s talking it out among crews, professional outside help, or resources through the Craig Tiger Act.

The goal is to support members through tough calls

Manor said the department is working to support its employees as they care for others.

He said mental health has come to the forefront of public safety, just as cancer concerns and other areas have been improved upon in the past.

“Every kind of ‘generation’ in the fire service, something is the new thing that needs to be worked on,” Manor said. “And right now it’s wellness.”

Manor said that the ability to be able to pull the high-stress incidents is a simple idea, that can help members as they work through tough calls.

“Just looking at it differently, and having the ability to pull that information, then why wouldn’t we do something?” Manor said.

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