Developing a Responder Resilience Program for the Henrico County Division of Fire   [open pdf - 2MB]

"The Henrico County Division of Fire (Henrico Fire) provides significant support for members undergoing difficult times due to on-duty and off-duty stressors. Henrico Fire has a long standing relationship with Henrico County Mental Health. Two clinicians are detailed on a part time basis to support department members and their families. Members also have access to an active chaplain corps and a traditional employee assistance program (EAP). However, the current approach is almost entirely reactive. The problem is that the Henrico Fire does not place equivalent emphasis on building psychological resilience in the workforce prior to the manifestation of cumulative and/or chronic stress-based performance deficiencies, behavioral misconduct, or the frank manifestation of a mental health crisis. This research set out to determine the current state of responder resilience in Henrico Fire and to establish the necessary components of a responder resilience program. Utilizing descriptive methodology, this research determined the current level of psychological resilience in Henrico Fire members, established the level of current resilience-supporting behaviors, explored the link between responder resilience and performance deficiency and behavioral problems, and identified existing resilience-building strategies from the fire service and other professions. A resilience self-assessment tool, The Resilience Checkup (Schiraldi, 2011) was utilized along with a questionnaire. Interviews were conducted with Henrico Mental Health clinicians and Henrico Fire chaplains as well as with national experts on resilience. Results indicated a high level of self-reported resilience among Henrico Fire members. Mental health clinicians and chaplains describe Henrico firefighters as a very resilient group. Recommendations include further research in this area, the development of a psychological resilience training program for the fire service, and possible incorporation of resilience screening in the fire department hiring process."

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United States Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/
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