Mental Health

First Responders must be able to adapt to mental and emotional stresses to provide excellent service to the community. Repeated exposures to traumatic events and personal stress over a career can increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation reported that departments are three times more likely to lose a Firefighter to suicide, than to a Line-of-Duty Death. Portsmouth Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services (PFRES) strives to improve mental and emotional resiliency by offering resources for employees and their families.

Peer Support Program

Firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs share a special bond forged from shared experience, communal station life and mutual trust. Portsmouth’s Peer Support Program uses this interpersonal connection to identify and assist members in mental and/or emotional crisis. The Peer Support Program does not replace professional assistance from a mental health provider, instead, team members provide acute emergency intervention for their fellow First Responders.

Critical Incident Stress Management

Rescuers during the course of their career will answer calls that are particularly challenging to their psyche. These can range from large scale catastrophic events to smaller, every day tragedies. Portsmouth Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services partners with the Tidewater EMS Council for Critical Incident Stress Management. Specialized teams staffed with mental health professionals and specifically trained First Responders aid rescuers with healing from the psychological injuries inflicted by traumatic scenes.

Employee Assistance Program

The City of Portsmouth provides resiliency resources with the Employee Assistance Program. This program offers professional counseling as well as other options to assist with addressing personal and professional stresses. Furthermore, the Employee Assistance Program is confidential and complimentary for both PFRES members and their households.