children and parents

Families of First Responders | Resources from the Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)

Publication Date: Aug 09, 2019

Police, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) professionals work in fast-paced environments, often putting in long hours and sometimes facing highly stressful and dangerous situations. This intensity can affect life at home and families of first responders. The following resources from the Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) provide various methods of support for first responders and their families in addressing potential mental health issues, managing challenges that come with the job, and helping children understand the role their parents play at work.

Strategies to Manage Challenges for EMS Families
This resource from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network lists many of the challenges that EMS personnel and their families may experience. The guide provides tips for dealing with unpredictable schedules, talking to children about concerns, handling mental strain and burnout, and maintaining a good relationship with a spouse or partner.

Supporting Officer Safety Through Family Wellness: Helping Your Child Understand Your Job
This resource from the International Association of Chiefs of Police was developed to help law enforcement officers discuss their job and what it involves with their children. It suggests how to talk about the job with children of 2–5 years and 6–10 years, explain frequent absences due to work, and describe the safety measures used by officers. It also lists signs of anxiety in children.

Tips for Families of Returning Disaster Responders: Adjusting to Life at Home
In this tip sheet, the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) describes issues that responders may face when they return home after disaster deployment. This resource offers tips for responders’ families, identifies signs of stress, and notes when to seek professional mental health services. The tip sheet is also available in Spanish.