Firefighting the Second-Most Stressful Job in the Nation, White Paper Reports

One more for your reading…maybe this one will help you think twice when voting on fire department taxes.

A new job-stress report by CareerCast.com found that firefighters have the second most-stressful job in the country, exceeded only by those enrolled in the military.

The job-stress white paper states that 36% of all workers admit they feel tense or stressed out during their workdays, with 20% reporting that their average daily level of stress is an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com — a free job website — said researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison regularly research and update statistics for the report. Researchers use 11 different stress factors to compile data, which includes whether the job has high physical demands, what environmental issues are present, the amount of hazards, risk to life, hiring outlook and more.

Lee said firefighters ranked second on the job stress scale because they take on dangerous and complex fires, often coming in contact with poisonous gases or other hazardous materials for a relatively low salary, at about $45,250 annually. Whether it’s running into burning buildings to save lives, putting out raging fires or responding to a serious accident, firefighters are under pressure to put their lives on the line to save others, he said.

What helped move firefighters up to the second spot was their level of stress coupled with the threat of job loss. Lee said while it is an incredibly “tough job,” many firefighters “may not be able to keep it because of budget cutbacks and municipalities’ and counties’ inability to keep all their firefighters,” he said. “So that adds to the stress level even more.”

CareerCast ranked firefighting as the most-stressful occupation in 2010.

December 14, 2012

A day I will remember forever, but not just because of the schooling shooting.

On this particular day I reported to work, just like any other. While at work, I got a breaking news text on my phone which is nothing new. Usually it’s just an accident, or weather related, but as we all know this one wasn’t any of the above. This was of a shooting, a horrible shooting at an elementary school. How tragic and horrible. I wanted to know more like my coworkers however emergencies took control and it was pushed aside.

Shortly after my shift began, my truck received a call to take a long distance transfer. My partner and I were pretty excited because it’s been a particularly busy rotation and this transfer was 5 hours ONE way! Hell yea, we’ll take that. Little did I know that this patient would change my life. The only information I received was a younger female, psych, going to a center for help.

My partner and I arrived to the hospital and were told the patient was in the ICU. I was shocked, an ICU patient going non-urgent 5 hours away…weird. When we got upstairs I was greeted by a teenage female, polite as can be. She asked not to get on the stretcher, stated her legs worked just fine. As you wish. She had her bag of items with her, clothing and stuff, and I offered to carry it or put it on the stretcher, which she did not want either. She told me she was fine and was capable, so I didn’t argue.

Once in the truck, my partner drove given the whole “female” thing. I started talking to this girl and was amazed by her story. I couldn’t believe her life, what she went through. I looked at her paperwork and saw that the physician wrote “suicidal” and “depressed” needing transfer to a facility that had better treatment. 5 hours away?? So I asked her why she was going there, to which she replied that is where she was from. Now, how does a female, under 17, end up 5 hours away from home…all alone…? I’ll tell you how…

She grew up 10 hours away from my ambulance area, and when she was 7 years old she was taken away from her parents. Both her parents had drug and alcohol problems, including meth and heroine. The state took her out of the home, but she said she doesn’t remember much of that time, just being hungry and mom and dad always gone. At 8 years old her father died of a drug overdose and at 8 and a half she was awarded to the state. However in this particular state there was very little room for her in the system so they shipped her to another state, my state.

When she got to my state she went to foster care. She said the first foster home didn’t work out, the second home the lady gave up her foster care license so at 11 years old she ended up in a children’s center…the one I was taking her to that particular day. At 13 years old, she was adopted. At 14 her adoptive dad molester her. WTF?! An ADOPTIVE parent…that is just wrong. So at 15 she was awarded to the state. She was recently sent to my area to be treated and ended up in the ICU for a few days. She talked to the doctor and said she wanted to go “home” so he signed paperwork to make sure it happened.

This girl was amazing. She has never done drugs, never drank, was doing decent in school. She didn’t take state money to buy a laptop, cell phone, senior items for school, nor did she want to accept it for college. I read her file, she has been working since 14 with a work permit and bought herself an iPod that she had wanted. She was truly an amazing girl! I talked to her social worker for a while too, she verified everything she told me. She doesn’t like getting money from the state, she wants to work for what she has. I’m so impressed given how many people out there believe they should just be handed everything and plus some.

We didn’t spend the whole time talking about her, she asked about my life. I told her about the abuse, my parent’s drinking and some of my story. She kept saying how sorry she was, but I know she had the more difficult life. She was just amazing, full of smiles and laughter. It’s always the ones that have the roughest life that hide being the smile. They hide their own pain to try and make other’s smile.

We played dots and hangman, she introduced me to some new books. We listened to radio coverage about the shooting, talked about that. We talked about suicide, she said she could never do it. She asked the doctor to say she was to make sure she could get back “home,” the children’s center that she said she loves. We talked about school, friends, college, jobs…it was amazing. She has opened my eyes, she has had this horrible life and she’s always smiling. She’s always happy, she likes making people laugh. She wants to smile and just be happy.

I returned home after my shift and my mother asked me why I was 5 hours away so I told her the story of this girl, this amazing girl. My mom’s reply…? “Does she want to live here?? I feel sorry for people like that, I want to give her a home.” WTF!? You think living HERE is going to help her??? But that is how my mom is…she puts up a good image. Then this morning…more problems with the bitch! Her “helpfulness” was all gone! She told me I need to start paying rent because she’s broke. I’m all for paying rent, or working my ass off (which I do) for my room and board, but I have a problem with paying rent to her because “she’s broke”! I don’t fucking think so!! She makes over $100,000 a year, drives a 2011 Corvette, and goes out almost every single night (literally), drinking all of them! On Thursday she racked up a $188 bill with her drinking buddies…and she says she doesn’t have any money. I’m not fucking paying!!

I make less than $20,000 a year, with school loans, and pretty bad medical problems. I can’t really “afford” to pay much in rent, but I’m at work all the time so why rent a place? All this house is is a place to store my stuff, where she constantly gives me chores, tells me to get home RIGHT after work to care for the dogs so she can go out drinking, to do this, do that. She’s just pissing me off, but I guess since everyone’s favorite aunt is here for the week…well my mood is just way off.

I’m not having a good day, thanks mostly to my mom, and feel kind of bad because my man came to visit me and I was really grumpy. I just feel bad. I apologized to him, but still feel bad. However, most of the time he was so wrapped up in watching tv that I wrapped his Christmas gifts right in front of him! ha I just hope everything gets better soon. I hate the fucking holiday’s!! They are killing me! I need a damn break!! That twin study said I tested positive in 4 areas for PTSD…well, that has some major triggers being hit right now and I just want to scream, fuck the world!

Promised

I made a promise and I never break promises. At least not when it is all within my control and I will not be breaking this one.

I promised Rocks I would be sticking around, so I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck listening to my useless rambles, at least for now. Sorry. I’m blaming Rocks for this! You can too! : ) Looks like you’re stuck with me for a while longer…at least for as long as I am needed. After that…well maybe someone else will need me.

I don’t believe I have depression because I don’t fit the signs of it. I know it’s not bi-polar because I was tested for that a while ago. I think it’s a combination of ADHD and that PTSD (from my past). I have been through a lot growing up, more than I have even mentioned here and maybe I will go back and start telling that story. Either way, I struggle every day with suicidal thoughts. I can’t stop it, it just happens. I could be happy, having a good day and the thought goes through my mind. I don’t always want it there, but it happens almost daily. It gets much worse when things are bad, then I sit there and dwell on the thought, sometimes planning it all out. I’ll admit it, I have some good plans. Sorry.

Despite all of it and what goes through my head, I made a promise and I will not break it. I’m here to stay and not allowed to give up just yet.

Day 19

I have nothing more to be thankful for. Not one. I thought all day and not a single thing comes to mind. Am I that horrible of a person? I can’t even be thankful for anything?

A little back story about the weekend and how I got to where I am right now…alone…

I was having a bad day, just one problem after another. Stuck at “hell” job all day, stupid drivers coming home, phone call from my mom all pissy, then my dad telling me about my grandma…just a bad day. Well, my man was in the area so he went to my house and waited for me to get there from work. I came in just stressed and not in a good mood. First he asks what my problem was, no hi…nothing…just, “what’s wrong now?” Am I that predictable? So I started by telling him crappy drivers made my day worse and without me even getting to explain about my grandma or the phone call from my mother, he responds with, “You’re ruining your life. You need to let it go.”

Probably not a bad response if you look at it and looking back now it wasn’t the worst response he could have chosen, however this particular night it was a “trigger” and I lost it. My response was something along the lines of, “I don’t need this tonight” and I took off upstairs in tears. I just couldn’t take anymore that day. His response to that? He left. Walked right out the door. I needed comfort, not another person to walk away. Am I that horrible to deal with?

By then I was pissed. Beyond pissed! I sent all kinds of horrible texts, ones I probably shouldn’t have, but I did it. I told him I’m done with him, with this family, with everyone. I told him to leave me alone and go enjoy his “happy fucking life” and that was the last message I sent. I have not responded to a single text message, phone call, nor e-mail from him for two days. He’s tried…sort of, but has yet to say sorry at all. So for now…I refuse to talk to him. I may have messed up, and I know my already bad day made things worse, but I refuse to let it be 100% my fault.

As for my grandma…got the call today that the doctors want to intubate so I had no choice but to go to the hospital. My mother and father are both on me about seeing her, but you know what…she’s been nothing but a bitch to me every time I see here…why should I take off work to go up there? I have bills to pay and I just flat out don’t want to be around her. Call me evil. I don’t give a shit anymore.

I guess being in EMS has given me a cold heart when it comes to the sick and dying. I’m used to it so to speak. It’s a part of life, I’m at peace with it, and know it’s coming. If it’s their time, it’s their time. If I lost the grandparents that helped raise me…yes it would hurt, I’d cry and miss them horribly, however it’s life. I don’t know…I don’t know how to deal with emotions. I don’t know what to do, what to say. I just…I don’t know. It’s life. And the grandma that is in bad shape…well, she has not been kind for a long time now…she’d be better off with my grandpa anyway because she has been a COMPLETELY different person without him.

What can I say…I’m a cold hearted bitch and I want nothing to do with anything right now. I’m done with it all. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of feeling. I’m tired.

Too Difficult

I’m too difficult to deal with, why bother trying. I found a new trigger, yep, that made my night just fucking wonderful. One trigger, then add another on top of it…made for one great ducking night! Not that anyone cares!

So you trigger more of a response after I’ve already been triggered into the bad mode and then you walk away? Thanks for nothing! Just leave like everyone always does. You started the problem, you fix it! You know my problem, why add too it?

I don’t need you, I don’t want you in my life. You’re not the first “friend” I have cut! In fact, I have almost none left, but it’s my own fault. I’m too difficult to deal with! Fuck you!

PTSD?

Over the past several months I have been doing a lot of research and reading, and I mean LOTS! My man mentioned before that he thinks I might be bipolar because my moods change so frequently, however anyone that knows anything about bipolar knows it takes them longer to change from mood to mood. I have a few friends that are, I’ve read a lot on it too, and I don’t think its that at all. Besides, no history of that in the family and I’m never in a manic stage, just depressed or normal. So I started doing a lot of reading to figure out what it might be.

I have ADHD, been diagnosed twice with it. Once when I was younger but my parents said it’s a bullshit disease and they are not paying for medication for it. They said I need my ass beat more, that would fix it…nice, huh? As an adult I got rediagnosed, this time I am taking medication for it. I found some interesting information that confirms my ADHD has a lot to do with my moods. I don’t have the link anymore, but here’s the information I copied over that confirmed it is ADHD and not bipolar.

ADHD

ADHD is characterized by significantly higher levels of inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and/or physical restlessness than would be expected in a person of similar age and development. For a diagnosis of ADHD, such symptoms must be consistently present and impairing. ADHD is about 10 times more common than BMD in the general population.

Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD)

By diagnostic definition, mood disorders are “disorders of the level or intensity of mood in which the mood has taken on a life of its own, separate from the events of a person’s life and outside of [his] conscious will and control.” In people with BMD, intense feelings of happiness or sadness, high energy (called “mania”), or low energy (called “depression”) shift for no apparent reason over a period of days to weeks, and may persist for weeks or months. Commonly, there are periods of months to years during which the individual experiences no impairment.

Making a diagnosis

Because of the many shared characteristics, there is a substantial risk of either a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis. Nonetheless, ADHD and BMD can be distinguished from each other on the basis of these six factors:

1. Age of onset: ADHD is a lifelong condition, with symptoms apparent (although not necessarily impairing) by age seven. While we now recognize that children can develop BMD, this is still considered rare. The majority of people who develop BMD have their first episode of affective illness after age 18, with a mean age of 26 years at diagnosis. (I was diagnosed at a very young age, around like 7 or 8 and still have it.)

2. Consistency of impairment: ADHD is chronic and always present. BMD comes in episodes that alternate with more or less normal mood levels. (I’m always aggitated, hyperactive, and just plain restless.)

3. Mood triggers: People with ADHD are passionate, and have strong emotional reactions to events, or triggers, in their lives. Happy events result in intensely happy, excited moods. Unhappy events — especially the experience of being rejected, criticized, or teased — elicit intensely sad feelings. With BMD, mood shifts come and go without any connection to life events. (Yes, this very much describes me. I have strong emotional reactions to events, even when I can’t explain it. As for unhappy events…yep…that is what I deal with, intensely sad feelings, more intense than I can explain.)

4. Rapidity of mood shift: Because ADHD mood shifts are almost always triggered by life events, the shifts feel instantaneous. They are normal moods in every way, except in their intensity. They’re often called “crashes” or “snaps,” because of the sudden onset. By contrast, the untriggered mood shifts of BMD take hours or days to move from one state to another. (Mine can shift so quickly, and I can’t even explain it. Happens in seconds sometimes.)

5. Duration of moods: Although responses to severe losses and rejections may last weeks, ADHD mood shifts are usually measured in hours. The mood shifts of BMD, by DSM-IV definition, must be sustained for at least two weeks. For instance, to present “rapid-cycling” bipolar disorder, a person needs to experience only four shifts of mood, from high to low or low to high, in a 12-month period. Many people with ADHD experience that many mood shifts in a single day. (Same as before, my moods shift so often.)

6. Family history: Both disorders run in families, but individuals with ADHD almost always have a family tree with multiple cases of ADHD. Those with BMD are likely to have fewer genetic connections. (I have an extensive family history of ADHD, but no bipolar in the family at all.)

With all that being said, I have confirmed it’s not bipolar, on many levels and from much more reading. But what is it? After reading webpage after webpage, and books upon books, there is a good possibility that it is simply my ADHD, however there is a good possibility that PTSD is also causing problems. I found some of this information on ADHD and PTSD.

  • Often the symptoms begin as feeling a bit dazed and numb–things seem a bit hazy or unclear–that can continue for several days or weeks. Disassociation is a common response to trauma, not unlike the times one’s mind just disappears with ADHD. (I know all about this one, but is it my ADHD causing it? Or something more?)
  • The confusion and dreaminess is usually followed by or accompanied with anxiety, often the generalized (free-floating) anxiety that feels like edginess, being easily startled and jumpy for no apparent reason. (Yes, completely. I have had some horrible anxiety lately with no real explanation for it.)
  • People usually have problems sleeping or relaxing. Hyper-vigilance, that constant sense of urgency, being on guard or ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’, ramps up the anxiety to the point of paranoia at times. This can lead to sleep deprivation, which amplifies the hyper-vigilance and many other problems. (Sleep problems? Check. Relaxing problems? Check. I’m always waiting and feel a sense of urgency even when I have nothing coming up.)
  • Isolation is pretty common for people who are hyper-vigilant or paranoid. In the extreme, people become afraid to go about their daily lives; in less extreme cases, they may avoid certain areas or trigger points and try to continue with their daily routine. If left untreated, this can lead to problems at work or school, in relationships or other facets of daily living. (I think I have hit that “untreated” point now because it is really starting to cause problems.)
  • Symptoms of depression may also follow: Frequent crying, feeling ‘flat’ (aka blah) or sad, lack of energy, loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, irritability or agitation, problems with concentration, changes in eating and sleep patterns, for some, thoughts of suicide or death and feeling guilty or worthless. (Crying for no apparent reason? Yes. Just plain sad, complete lost of interest…all of the above.)

So…my ADHD might be the main problem, but there is a good possibility that PTSD is causing problems too. It’s one of those disorders people don’t really understand. I think this quote might help people understand what a “stressful situation” is…because it’s always different, based on the person.

People react differently to events. Some people are traumatized by seemingly benign events that other people experience and shake off easily. Others survive horrific events that seem traumatic without long-lasting psychological damage.

So looking at this bit of information helps explain some things too. See…it’s not the big events that have caused me to get to this point, it’s the “stupid pointless crap” that has gotten me here. Understand? I have ran many stressful calls, many, but they never seem to effect me. I have this ability to disassociate myself from that, I can disconnect from it. I am able to separate it and not think about it, it doesn’t bother me. It’s the things from every day life that get to me. The things from every day life are what bother me the most. Starting from early life with my parents, starting with my first beating. Here’s a little bit more reading for you, just giving more information about my ADHD and what could have caused it more.

In a study that compared girls with ADHD to girls not suffering from it, higher rates of abuse were found in the ADHD population. Of the girls with ADHD, 14.3 percent had been abused. Of the girls without ADHD, 4.5 percent had been abused.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) show a high degree of comorbidity in traumatized children. Two hypotheses may help explain this relationship: children with ADHD are at higher risk for trauma due to their impulsivity, dangerous behaviors, and parents who may have a genetic predisposition for impairment of their own impulse control; and hyperarousal induced by severe trauma and manifested by hypervigilance and poor concentration may impair attention to create an ADHD-like syndrome.

As you see, there is a lot of overlap in symptoms and a reported high incidence of abuse in kids with ADD/ADHD. PTSD can exacerbate your ADHD symptoms – and create anxiety with new symptomsEACH TIME THE EVENT IS TRIGGERED IN YOUR PRESENT LIFE.

After much reading from several different places, there is a good possibility that my problem is PTSD. After I started thinking about it, I realized that there are “triggers” I have, things that cause great stress and make things worse for me. However, not everything is completely explainable, sometimes I have rapid mood changes without full explanation. Maybe those are triggers I don’t have figured out yet? I don’t know.

What do you think? Do you know anyone with PTSD that is having problems too? Especially on with ADHD? Because I would like to find other people to talk to that have this.