First Responders and Mental Health: Father's Day

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Written by Marie B, former first responder

    Hey, it’s your humble former first responder here. Back with another blog. Father’s Day. It’s a time to honor our fathers. But first I want to mention a recent loss. 

     This year will be bittersweet for a firefighter’s family who just lost their dad/husband/son on the 26th of May. He died doing what he loved. His family, friends, community, and FD family will surely miss him. His name was James Michael Muller. He was only 25 years old. He was a 7 year veteran firefighter with the Irmo Fire Department. He died when his department was assisting the Columbia/Richland County Fire Department with an apartment fire. His funeral was May 31st 2023. My heart goes out to his family, blood and fire. If you know anyone that is having a hard time dealing with this or any other loss, please help them reach out for help. Its only a phone call away. I could do a whole blog on loss of First Responders, but I’ll leave that for another day. RIP James Michael Muller.

  To bring it around. Sometimes, as a father, you tend to have unknown (to you) certain anxieties. For instance, a FF may run his family through fire drills at home. It is a great thing to do. But to scare the crap out of your already anxious child into thinking her home is about to burn to the ground, as she is running out the door while you stand there with a match at the smoke detector. Yeah, probably not a good idea. I understand the concept now. But then, not so much.

  Or as a LEO, come home from shift and try to get your kids to obey you. In your cop voice. Seriously. That may work at first but in the long run, not good for your kiddos. They are not suspects or criminals. I know that it’s hard to separate it when you get agitated or mad at them. Shoot, I still use my Paramedic voice. It’s second nature to you.

  As I write this blog, I chuckle at these fellas. Folks that work in the public safety or first responders fields, tend to be very vigilant. We want to know the best way to handle a situation. It’s a great habit to have but we have to learn when to turn it off. Whether it’s to leave work in that patrol car when you sign off, or climbing in your POV when you leave shift. You’ve got to turn it off. You could be influencing your children into some of their anxieties if you go too far. Like Hypervigilance. It’s okay to be vigilant or even extra vigilant but be careful, it could border obsession or paranoia.

   According to, hypervigilance is someone who are constantly on guard and prone to overreact. They maintain an intense and sometimes obsessive awareness of their surroundings, frequently scanning for threats or routes of escape. They also say that it often occurs in response to some threat that triggers feelings of anxiety or a past trauma related memory.

  One of the main causes could be from PTSD and anxiety disorders. It could also be a medical condition. You won’t know until you get checked out. According to the website, there are many triggers. You may not even realize that you have any of these disorders. That’s why it is very important to get a routine checkup. Mental and physical.

There are many different treatments for PTSD and anxiety disorders out there. Given by trained therapist. Exposure therapy and CBT are just 2 of the many ways to help. Here at Choices Counseling, we do these therapies.

  So, if you or a loved one seems to be hyper vigilant or paranoid-ish, get them some help. They may even have to medicate but do so through a doctor. There is NOTHING wrong with getting help. NOTHING WRONG WITH GETTING HELP. Once more to the people in the back, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GETTING HELP!!! BREAK THE STIGMA PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Happy Father’s Day to all you silly fellas and quit traumatizing your kids! I’m joking. Seriously though, I hope ya’ll have a great day. Please get a mental health checkup. Love on your babies and relax!! You deserve it!!!

*PS, go read that article on on Hypervigilance. It’s a good article. *

SAMHSA hotline 1-800-662-4357