Mindfulness training to help first responders deal with opioid crisis
From Charleston Gazette-Mail
By Erin Beck
The idea came from meetings of the Great Rivers Harm Reduction Coalition, a group of public health professionals, first responders and academics from Kanawha, Cabell and Putnam counties [West Virginia]. Burn-out and compassion fatigue — common among people whose work frequently exposes them to trauma — often came up.
“When repeatedly exposed to people who are overdosing, especially those who have repeated overdoses, we’re facing cynicism, and some of the older law enforcement officers expressed a kind of detachment from both work and personal lives,” Brumage said. “They just became so cynical over time. They weren’t as effective as they could have been — either professionally or personally.”
Brumage has worked on similar programs with the military and with some members of the West Virginia University football team.
“If you’re facing a life-and-death event, you need to be fully present for that event to be most effective,” he said. “If you are either burned out, and therefore dull in your response, or you’re hypervigilant, then you’re not operating in your optimal zone.
“Emotions are going to arise whether you like them to or not, as well as distractions. The key is to recognize them and to let them pass to be able to focus on the task at hand and then later to be able to have a healthy way to deal with those things.”