Amidst growing concern about the mental health of emergency medical service (EMS) professionals, a Fitch & Associates’ Ambulance Service Manager Program project team surveyed more than 4,000 EMS and fire professionals in 2015 about critical stress, suicide, and available support and resources. The results were stark. Among survey respondents, 37 percent reported contemplating suicide—nearly 10 times the overall rate among American adults. Additionally, 6.6 percent of survey respondents had attempted suicide, compared to just 0.5 percent of adults nationally.
Mental health issues are not limited to the EMS workforce. According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, at least 759 firefighters have committed suicide since 2012. In law enforcement, estimates suggest between 125 and 300 police officers commit suicide every year. These numbers should be a wake-up call, not only for every emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, firefighter, police officer, and emergency telecommunicator (sometimes called dispatchers or call-takers), but also for agency leaders and county and city officials who work with them. [excerpt from PM Magazine, May 2016]