CHAPTER 11The Role of Hardiness in First Responders: Police and Firefighters

“Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, they are all out there every single day literally just a phone call away for anyone who needs them.”

—Doreen Croni (American author of children’s picture books)

Some occupational groups are often cited for their high levels of stress and subsequent burnout. As a result, many studies have focused on burnout levels and protective factors for people in these careers. A number of those jobs fall into the category of first responders—police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency workers. In this chapter we’ll explore some of the challenges experienced by professionals in high-risk public safety positions. Specifically, we’ll look at police officers and firefighters. By understanding more about how people in these high-risk groups navigate the stress and trauma in their lives, we can learn more about managing our own challenges.

Hardiness and Policing

Much of the research looking at police officer stress has focused on the nature of frontline policing, such as patrolling, arrests, callouts, and organizational stressors. Officers on the front line, patrolling neighborhoods, often face immediate, objective threats. It’s not hard to imagine some of the threats they face in their day-to-day work.

Interestingly, one study of police officers showed that police demonstrated no greater negative effects from stress, such as burnout, when compared with other occupational ...

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