I was working overtime and had the opportunity to interact with some A shifters that I rarely have time to sit down and talk with. Over our "Towers of Carnitas" that were filling in as a late breakfast, we were discussing neuroscience as it relates to active shooter situations.
I was sharing this meal with my driver, and one of the leaders in our department both in Active Shooter and Leadership training, and listening to him recount the importance of chaos and trauma exposure as form of stress inoculation for critical incidents.
Our conversation was rolling along the usual path when I drew the parallel between stress inoculation in a mass casualty situation and walking into a stressful family life.
If you've ever been young, with multiple children under the age of five, you
get the similarities! "Engine 211 on scene of a single story, residential structure. Got smoke showing from the ears of a mother who has not had adult interaction in the last 24 hours. We will be conducting a 360 and operating in defensive mode. Strike second alarm, next due unit establish alcohol supply."
Thankfully, I had two firefighters at the table who could back up my assertion because he looked at me like I was crazy.
Upon getting confirmation, the driver suddenly exclaimed, "Why are we training active shooter when we have guys going home to this after every shift?!"
This is where tactical training makes its way into the home environment. If we can teach people how to respond to a myriad of horrible traumatic situations, why can't we use the same methods to make the home life less traumatic, if not downright pleasant?
Tactical breathing, good pre-planning, and clear communication are how you achieve a positive outcome at home as well as on the fire-ground.
It always comes back to neuroscience. The body cannot go where the mind has never been before. We need to engage our young first responders and train them in proper communication, mindset, and the tactics and application of the stress response system at home.
We want our people to be at their best when on-shift but that is going to be impossible if they are having issues at home.
As much as we train for the unlikely disaster, we need to start spending more time training for the daily family stressors.