Authors: Harriette Boursnell - School of Psychological Sciences, University of Newcastle, Australia and Melanie Boursnell - Fernlea Consulting, Australia



This literature review discusses the impact and nature of traumatic experiences of first responders, focusing on their ability to cope with the cognitive and behavioural symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). First responders are defined as police, fire, ambulance, military, public health service workers, and state, local, and volunteer agencies, who protect and safeguard communities. First responders disproportionately suffer from PTSD; symptoms often lead to inability to continue their duties. Individuals and organisations should consider how individuals recover from PTSD. This paper reviews literature on PTSD interventions and recommends Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy for treatment of PTSD in first responders. The literature review explored effective treatment options for overcoming PTSD and found an embedded culture in first responder organisations of cognitive avoidance, which results in reduced help seeking behaviours. Poor help-seeking behaviours correlate with high levels of PTSD and psychological distress, low levels of mental health literacy, and career issues. This paper discusses how EMDR is a potential and effective therapy to reduce symptoms of PTSD in first responders. Evidence reviewed in this paper suggests EMDR should be used as a treatment option for first responders to help reformulate negative thoughts/beliefs associated with exposure to traumatic events.

Keywords: PTSD, Trauma, EMDR, First Responders, Evidence-Based, Adaptive Information Processing

Vol 3, Issue 1, April 2022