Responding To COVID-19 as a First Responder Family

coronavirus covid-19 crisis intervention first responder first responder children first responder family first responder spouse first responders hope mental health occupational stress operational stress resilience

In my coaching, online education program and clinical practice with First Responder Families this week I have heard a theme, and it’s one of HELPLESSNESS. 


Some of the helpers, wired to serve, protect and support are feeling helpless in this pandemic of coronavirus (Covid-19).


Let’s face it, the hearts of our First Responder Families are huge. That’s why they are in the roles they are in, because they CARE about people and want to leave their community a better place! 


First Responder Families are on the frontline, in the trenches of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. These unprecedented times can be stressful and angst filled. 


In some ways, how the world is living right now is very similar to the First Responder Family life most days.


First Responder Families struggle with hypervigilance most days. First Responder Children and Spouses might feel vulnerable about the safety of their First Responder. First Responders seeing the worst humanity can do to each other or experience in this world, can feel vulnerable to protect their loved ones. 


Most days, First Responder Families can live with cancelled plans, being at home single parenting trying to juggle work and caring for our children with little support. Isolated from support, family and friends with the only means of connection online or on the telephone. Bombarded with information of critical stress incidents and living in a chronic state of stress taking in information on the impact around us. 


Right now in Covid-19 the stress feels different. Helplessness stemming from powerlessness to do anything to stop what is happening in the world. 


In the First Responder community right now I hear of First Responders at risk of being deployed to other departments, states or areas needing more resources. Increased stress from living apart as families.


Many of our First Responder spouses have lost their jobs,  trying to figure out the financial implications.


With limited to no child care options the stress of dual First Responders Families juggling child care and rearranging schedules to ensure one of them can stay home to care for their children.


First Responder Families living away from their extended family are feeling the stress of  living far from support systems. 


Our First Responder Families are wired to RESPOND in Critical Incident Stress. During this pandemic, the work of a First Responder can be even more stressful than normal.


On top of possibly dealing with an adjustment to a relocation, new tasks, new position, new management, new coworkers. The people they will encounter in their stress are more likely to be hostile, panicked and aggressive, reacting from their fear and uncertainty.


Brene Brown states, “In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection”. When we feel vulnerable we have two choices: armour up or be seen. 


First Responder Families, our challenge this week is:


  •  to be seen within our families. To show up and share our fears, vulnerabilities and concerns with our partner/spouse. To hold space for our children this week, validating this is tough, acknowledging their feelings, listening to their concerns so they feel seen, heard and supported.


  • to create space in our schedule for what we can control: self care, deep breathing, meditation, exercise, sleep, healthy eating and rest. Pause. Listen to your body, mind and spirit. Stay in the now. Live in the moment. Practice gratitude every day. 


First Responder Families YOU are on the frontline, in the trenches. YOU are the leaders in your community for how to live in uncertain, vulnerable, challenging times.  YOU were born for this! Since your family was first established as a First Responder Family you have been in training, developing the adaptability skills required at this time for positive growth and resilience in uncertain times. 


We have available for you 5 FREE tools, checklists, planner to help increase coping and wellness during Covid-19 click here to learn more. 


First Responder Family Wellness Center is getting ready to roll out The First Responder Spouse Online Support Program, click here to sign up to be the first to know when the doors open for registration!


We are offering individual online coaching sessions if you are interested in support to help you achieve your family wellness and resiliency goals, book a free 15 minute online consultation click here.

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