Dessa Bergen-Cico
International Paramedic Practice, Vol. 5, Iss. 3, 22 Dec 2015, pp 78 - 87

First responders are an often ignored group facing emotional and physical stress that is
similar to that of law enforcement personnel and military veterans. Fifty first responder
employees were invited to participate in the study, of which 34 completed the following
psychological and biological measures: 1) the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C);
2) State Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA); 3) the Center for
Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale (CES-D); 4) the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index
(PSQI); 5) Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT); 6) Cornell Musculoskeletal
Discomfort Questionnaire (CMDQ); 7) heart rate and blood pressure during two
consecutive days; 8) body mass index (BMI); and 9) salivary cortisol measured once.
Among participants, 18% (n=6) met criteria for anxiety, 47% for depression (n=16) and
33% (n=12) for PTSD. Comparison of statistical models assessing the predictive strength
of physical and behavioural health measures found PTSD to be the strongest predictor
for depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, musculoskeletal pain, cortisol and BMI.
A substantial portion of first responders met criteria for PTSD and anxiety.
Assessing the impact of these conditions may best be achieved through physical
health measures (cortisol, BMI, heart rate) in addition to psychometric screening
tools (PCL, CESD, STICSA).

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