Research from Charles Sturt University (CSU) has shown the COVID-19 pandemic may have a deep and lasting impact on Australia’s first responder community.
The research highlighted significant pressures around increased workloads, and a compounding anxiety related to a constantly changing work environment due to access to PPE and changing communication and information.
In response, John Bale, Managing Director of Fortem Australia, an organisation dedicated to supporting first responders and their families said: “The paramedics, police officers, and firefighters we see, talk of the real fear they have of bringing COVID home with them to their loved ones.”
“Going into this, the first responder community was already showing higher signs of mental distress than the general population,” Mr Bale said.
Key findings from the CSU study:
• The proportion of respondents with severe depression and anxiety was 10 and 4 times higher (respectively) than the general population.
• The level of workplace burnout was very high with over half showing high levels of emotional exhaustion. Forty percent of respondents are considering quitting their current job.
“Our community can’t afford to lose these key people and the expertise, skill and empathy they offer, especially at this time, so we have a moral duty to listen and respond to their call for help and support,” Mr Bale said.
CSU also highlighted the power of gratitude and the need to thank our first responder community.
“Send a postcard, get the kids to do some artwork, make a poster for your front window, share your thanks on social media – simple things we can all do during these challenging times to show our support. And the thing with expressing gratitude is that the benefits also bounce back,” Mr Bale concluded.
Send an email to thank our first responders using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org