When I first joined the fire service, I made the mistake of dating someone within the company shortly after joining. The relationship quickly became abusive. At the time I had a history of self-mutilation which he knew about and had not done any self harm in three or four years. His verbal attacks became so bad that one day I finally resorted to my old behaviors.
We broke up that same day, and before I had a chance to ask for help, he threatened me again. He told me that if I went to my EMS officers about what I had done, I would be kicked out of the fire company and that I would not be able to run anywhere else. He told me I would not be allowed to attend EMT class because I was crazy. Since he was a fire officer, I believed him. He made it so I would be afraid to seek help due to setback from his abusive behavior. I eventually did seek treatment on my own and was able to go back to positive coping skills.
Five years, an EMT certification, bachelor’s degree, and fiancé later, I am in control of my mental health. I have been fortunate enough to find a company with members who understand the importance of mental health and who do not judge me for my past. It is my wish that people like my abusive ex-boyfriend/fire lieutenant be run out of this industry so providers can feel more comfortable in taking care of themselves.
– Maureen, EMT, 6 years in EMS.