A Healthier Wisconsin

Wisconsin EMS Workforce Development: Addressing Occupational Trauma with Resiliency Training

Providing resilience training for EMS workers

Full Project Name:Wisconsin EMS Workforce Development: Addressing Occupational Trauma with Resiliency TrainingPrimary Community Organization:Center for Suicide AwarenessPrimary Academic Partner:Matthew Chinn, MD, Emergency MedicineAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
Project Duration:18 months

Project Description Narrative:

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers face stressful and traumatic situations every day—car accidents, drug overdoses, violent crimes, suicides, and other life-threatening situations. Additionally, they are increasingly subject to physical and psychological violence directed toward them. In 2020, Marc Cohen, Executive Director of the Wisconsin EMS Association, told a Wisconsin Public Radio reporter, "Our people are committing suicide. It's reached a crisis, compounded with COVID-19. We need help."

EMS workers are at higher risk of suicide, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population. In addition, they often do not have time to process traumatic events.

The Center for Suicide Awareness (CSA) will provide the University of Pennsylvania evidence-based model of FBI Academy Master Resilience Training for EMS workers in Wisconsin. This training was developed for the FBI Academy to address and combat PTSD, depression, and suicide for first responders.

Resilience training is effective. In a 2013 study of resilience-trained U.S. Army National Guard soldiers and civilians, 92% of participants "indicated the training was helpful and improved resilience competencies that enhanced coping with stressful circumstances." In the same study, 97% of respondents "indicated that these competencies were subsequently used in their military and civilian jobs." A Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration report concluded, "Behavioral and public health agencies can help prevent or alleviate behavioral health issues in first responders through preventive training on resiliency and behavioral health before disasters or other events, interventions to address burnout, and peer support programs."

CSA will partner with the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin EMS Association, Wisconsin Technical Colleges, UW Health, and UW Extension Campuses to provide the Master Resilience Training, which will be open to 800 EMS workers throughout the 18-month project period. These live trainings will be hosted throughout the state and online. CSA will also create a pre-recorded version of the training, broken down by module, that will be disseminated to all partner agencies and available online for EMS workers to access in the future.

Improving EMS workers' mental, physical, and emotional resilience will help them better serve their patients. When EMS workers can show up to work with the resiliency tools they need, there is sure to have a ripple effect throughout the healthcare system and the communities they serve.

Community partners: Center for Suicide Awareness, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, UW Health

Project Updates:

  • Received positive feedback and survey results related to first responder trainings
  • Developed strong partnerships throughout the emergency medical services sector
  • Developed modules in virtual format that will be launched at the end of summer 2023
  • Utilized CD-RISC as an evaluation tool to measure effectiveness of trainings

AHW Logo

8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350