As first responders, we are accustomed to seeing the results of our actions immediately. We arrive and often immediately mitigate difficult incidents and situations. We quell disturbances, put out fires and treat patients, often at the worst moment of their lives. I feel that EMDR is so successful with our population because it provides relief for those suffering from job-related trauma, and we often feel the results of this action immediately, allowing us to robustly re-engage in our chosen professions and continue to provide for the acute needs of others.
Lieutenant Theodore J. Stanek
Stamford (CT) Fire Department
“I learned of the Fairfield County Trauma Response Team following the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The first responders were trained police, fire and EMS from all levels. Despite their training most were not prepared for the horrific deaths of twenty first graders and six school staff. Many responders reached their tipping point and suffered Post Traumatic Stress as a result of what was witnessed. Police, fire and medical response were at a loss as to how to treat their staff until the Fairfield Trauma Response Team volunteered to help. The professional services provided by the Fairfield Trauma Response Team were exceptional. The treatment they offered was Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and it helped with short term and longer term symptom relief. It was common to hear comments like; ‘The treatment was immediate!’; ‘I could not believe the results of my first session.’; ‘This saved my life as I knew it.’
As a command member of the Connecticut State Police with over 35 years of law enforcement experience, I give the Fairfield County Trauma Response Team my “Highest Recommendation” and a sincere “Thank You”.
I had no idea of the nightmare that would descend on me when the pandemic hit. At first, it seemed manageable but we were afraid that we would run out of protective gear and we did. It was then that I started to lose sleep. And then patients were dying and there was nothing we could do. I felt so bad for them and for their loved ones. I had nightmares and when I was away from the job, I stayed at a hotel because I didn’t want to infect my family. I was so alone and alternated between feeling numb to shaking and crying by myself. A friend suggested an EMDR therapist and we had four zoom sessions. It was so hard to focus on the memories that were most disturbing to me but I did and they began to feel more distant and I was able to eat again and then to sleep for 4-5 hours at a time. I felt like I was returning to who I was before this all began. I am so thankful to the therapist. She didn’t want to charge me but that didn’t feel right so I paid what I could. I have told my work buddies about EMDR and some have already started.
ID nurse in NYC hospital
As an older ICU physician, I was thinking of retirement before this pandemic started. I have seen a lot of suffering over the years, but nothing like this. The patients were dying and there was nothing we could do. We held their hands, some of the staff sang to them. I felt so guilty that somehow I had let these people down. And their families couldn’t be with them and I felt I let them down too. When I went home at the end of a long shift, I quarantined myself. I was struggling and my family was struggling without me. A staff colleague of mine was trained in a therapy called EMDR and persuaded me to give it a try. He met with me 3 times in his office at the hospital and we used the EMDR procedure. It was so strange. When we focused on a recent upsetting experience, I found myself thinking about things that I had experienced in medical school and then residency and we would focus on those for a little while. In doing the EMDR the emotional pain I have been having began to weaken and the guilt that I was carrying began to lighten. I can’t explain exactly what happened but I began to feel much better and no longer dreaded going back to work each day. It feels like this is what I have been preparing all my life to do.
ICU physician in NYC hospital