Managing stress for ‘blue light’ shift workers

Date Published : October 10th, 2019    Published By : admin

Emergency service personnel who work shift patterns can sometimes become more distressed due to the nature of their job.


Psychological distress refers to negative feelings such as anxiety, anger, depression or frustration which are often felt by individuals in response to continued pressures or demands. Stress and distress can occur when a person is subjected to demands and expectations that are out of keeping with their needs, abilities, skills and coping strategies, and these can lead to mental and physical ill health.

Today is World Mental Health Day, which offers people an opportunity to reach out and open-up to their family, friends and colleagues about how they are feeling. This year’s theme focuses on ‘young people and mental health in a changing world.’


Emergency services at traumatic scene. (Photo: Declan Keogh / Emergency Times)

Serious incidents, traumatic scenes or horrific crimes can have detrimental effects on any person at any given time, regardless of how well they are trained, however long in the service they are or however ‘used’ to those calls they might be.

Gardaí, police officers, firefighters, ambulance paramedics and search & rescue personnel are predominately the services who are the first to witness or encounter stressful and traumatic scenes. Voluntary groups of search parties who discover or recover bodies from the water, on land or off a cliff or mountain are often faced with gruesome scenes too.

All these situations can play heavy on the minds of ‘blue light’ service personnel and minding the mind is a critical part of dealing with stress management.

Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM, is an intervention protocol developed specifically for dealing with traumatic events. It is a formal, highly structured and professionally recognised process for helping those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, vent emotions, learn about stress reactions and symptoms and given referral for further help if required.

CISM is not psychotherapy, it is a confidential, voluntary and educative process, sometimes called 'psychological first aid'.

The CISM Network Ireland provides a forum for the promotion and exchange of best practice information on CISM and information on standards, availability and provision of training for it. The Network, which is based at the Institute of Technology Carlow, is run by an inter-agency National Steering Committee comprising a wide range of representatives from the north and south of Ireland, including statutory, voluntary, emergency, military, and other agencies. This Network is the first of its kind in Ireland and is the leading group to advise, work with, and support the emergency services in implementing CISM in Ireland.

In relation to ‘blue light’ shift workers, a specific CISM programme is planned to take place on 12th November called ‘Managing our health in shift work’. Three keynote speakers; Motty Varghese, Clare A Cornish and Cathal Gallagher will give talks on how best to manage your health in shift patters.



Courtesy: CISM TheNetwork Ireland.

wilThe eventl take place at Carlow IT and is coordinated by CISM Network Ireland.

For more information on World Mental health day, visit  http://www.yourmentalhealth.ie

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