A qualitative exploration of perceived sources of occupational stress by Dublin fire fighters and the attitudes held by Dublin fire fighters towards counselling and other support services

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Meehan, Jennifer
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Given the nature of emergency work and the fact that emergency workers are often the hidden victims in their profession, the main focus of this research topic was on what support services are available to Dublin fire fighters, their perceived effectiveness and their uptake. It explored coping mechanisms and support structures. In particular, the research centred on attitudes towards counselling in the fire brigade. The study explored existing services such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. This study also examined and explored sources of stress as identified by emergency personnel through focus group and semi structured individual interviews. The total number of participants was eleven with 18% female and 82% male. The mean age of participants was 42.5 while the average length of service was 17.5 years. There were six members in the focus group and five individual interviews. A phenomenological qualitative approach was used to analyse data. This was in order to capture an in depth insight into participants’ experiences. Results reveal that 100% of participants were aware of formal support services available to them and how to access them if needed. 27% participants had used formal support services available to them. 90% of participants favoured peer support as the first means of support that they sought and felt that most issues were solved at this level. Identification with the victim was the highest indicator of an event having an impact on the firefighter. Author keywords: Occupational stress, fire fighters, emergency responders, attitudes to counselling