Sharon Road/SouthPark
5203 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC 28210
View Map

Selwyn Avenue/Myers Park
3009 Selwyn Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209
View Map

(704) 554-9900

Search Presby Psych

First Responders: Fire & EMS Departments,
Law Enforcement & Dependents

First Responders: Fire & EMS Departments,
Law Enforcement & Dependents

Law enforcement and fire department personnel, including retirees, and their families encounter all the same personal, marital, parental, and family stressors as other people. In addition, they are exposed to unique occupational-related stress.

Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and retirees
  • Take their own lives at higher rates than the general population rates
  • Experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than the wider population
  • Abuse alcohol and other substances to try to cope with stress symptoms
  • Are affected by chronic sleep deprivation and sleep disorders

Firefighters are expected to be heroes and may feel guilty or ashamed when they cannot meet that expectation.

Law enforcement officers and retirees may resent portrayals of them in the media and be subject to aggressive comments and behavior from the public.

Dispatchers and 9/11 operators
  • Hear calls marked by screaming, crying and sounds of violence They dispatch and must move on immediately to the next call
  • Do not usually find out how a distressing situation was resolved
  • Experience burn-out and emotional exhaustion
  • Are vulnerable to PTSD, anxiety, and depression
Spouses/partners and children of law enforcement personnel and firefighters
  • Worry about their loved one’s health and safety
  • Resent the disruptions to life caused by shift work
  • Are affected by negative public opinion and media reports
  • May feel that they play second fiddle to the job

Seeking help for stress-associated mental health challenges is a strength that helps current and retired members of the law enforcement and firefighting communities and their families care more effectively for themselves, each other, and the wider community.

Presby Psych clinicians have years of experience working clinically with first responders, couples, children, and families. As a trauma-informed organization, we are sensitive to stress-related disorders and are able to listen to distressing stories without fear or excessive curiosity. We are skilled in working with acute and post-traumatic stress and with alcohol and substance abuse issues that first responders often experience.

Call us at 704-554-9900 to arrange a consultation.

All sessions with law enforcement personnel, firefighters, retirees, and dependents are confidential. We do not report information about these clients to their law enforcement or firefighting superiors, organizations or agencies.

first responder
Who we see
  • 911 operators and dispatchers
  • Administrators, officers, and supervisors
  • Children of law enforcement or fire department personnel
  • EMTs employed by CFD
  • Firefighters
  • Police officers
  • Retirees from law enforcement and the fire department
  • Spouses/domestic partners of law enforcement or fire department personnel
Occupation-Related Sources of Stress

Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Retirees

  • Chronic and cumulative exposure to violence, loss, death
  • Concern about their own and fellow officer’s safety
  • Expectations of perfection and heroic action by the public
  • Lack of emotional support from supervisors or department officials
  • Negative reactions by the media and the public
  • Shift work and sleep deprivation
  • Unexpected policy and personnel changes perceived as ill-considered

Dispatchers and 911 operators

  • Chronic and cumulative stress of fielding calls marked by screaming, crying, sounds of violence, dispatching, then having to move on to the next call
  • Rarely knowing how situations in the field are resolved

Spouses/Partners and Children

  • Chronic concern about their loved one’s health and safety
  • Disruptions to their lives caused by shift work
  • Their loved one’s stress responses that affect family life
  • Uncertainty about how best to support their family member while also expecting that person to support them
Mental Health Reactions to Occupational-Related Stress

Burn out
Decreased interest in sex
Difficulty concentrating
Emotional numbness
Exaggerated guilt or shame
Exaggerated startle response
Hopelessness about the future
Increased alcohol, drug or food consumption
Irritability, angry outbursts, aggressive behavior
Lack of interest in activities that used to provide pleasure
Loss of interest in work or family
Negative thoughts about people and society
Nightmares, recurring dreams, flashbacks
Physical symptoms
Reckless or aggressive behavior
Reliving in memory job-related traumatic incidents or events
Sleep disturbances
Suicidal thoughts or intent
Volatile emotional states

All Presby Psych clinicians are available to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Employees, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 Employees, Matthews Police Department Employees, Matthews Fire and EMS Department Employees, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, and Pineville Police Department Employees, including all Retirees and Dependents.