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Everyday EMS
by Greg Friese

Coping with Stress

Earlier this year, a student who participated in a ride-along with me died very suddenly two weeks later. The emotions I experienced after her death surprised me. I also felt embarrassed because I knew my co-workers and other students knew her much better.

What constitutes a significant or traumatic event varies from person to person and is likely impacted by many factors such as age, experience, knowledge, socio-economic traits, underlying health, other life stresses, and daily stress outlets. These measures help me manage stress on a daily basis:

1. Eat and sleep well. I average seven or more hours of sleep per night and eat four or five small meals a day instead of two or three big meals.

2. Regular exercise six or seven days a week. My exercise varies from walking the dog to intense marathon training to road cycling to playing with my kids.

3. Reflect about each call as we clear the hospital and make a simple statement or ask a question about something that went well, was interesting, or could have been handled differently to invite conversation if my partner is interested.

4. Maintain a network of friends that are paramedics in other systems. When I talk with them about my highs and lows, their emotional attachment is to me, not the system.

5. Learn and understand good stress and bad stress. I thrive on a bit of stress to meet project deadlines, achieve fitness goals, and manage a busy family schedule. I enjoy learning about how others achieve balance, manage their time, and techniques for stress management.

Finally, I have taken advantage of my employer’s employee assistance program (EAP) after a couple of traumatic events. What helped me the most was talking to a counselor to identify solutions best suited for me as an individual.

For additional information on coping with traumatic events visit the CDC page Coping with Stress.


About the author

Greg Friese is the Director of Education for CentreLearn Solutions, LLC. He is also an e-learning designer, writer, podcaster, presenter, paramedic, and marathon runner. Read more from him at the EverydayEMSTips.com blog. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at greg.friese@ems1.com.

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