POST-TRAUMATIC stress disorder (PTSD) isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

An estimated 8 million U.S. adults experience PTSD in a given year. Of first responders, 37% have acknowledged contemplating suicide as a result of PTSD.

First responders are the men and women who are exposed to trauma when they arrive at crash scenes, fires, floods, tornadoes, violent crimes and domestic disputes. They are expected to be tough and immune to emotional stress.

Many first responders experience flashbacks, nightmares and other intrusive thoughts. It’s difficult to unsee the carnage and results of major trauma, serious injury situations and people dealing with the worst events one could imagine.

First Responders Appreciation Week is recognized at various times of the year, but nationally it is Sept. 9-15. Not to be forgotten, the week of Oct. 7-13 is Fire Safety and Fire Prevention Week.

In regard to PTSD, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, funeral directors, hospital emergency room personnel and other first responders need to learn and practice healthy ways of coping with the constant stresses of their jobs.

A few unique stressors that can lead to PTSD are chronic fatigue, repeated exposure to trauma, exposure to mass violence and destruction, exposure to death and dismembered bodies, seeing peers and partners injured in the line of duty, and witnessing the death of a child.

Many first responders undergo training to deal with substance abuse, anger management, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. It’s important for them to get help dealing with anger, impulsivity and the reflex of lashing out.

There are PTSD programs for first responders. The focus is on early intervention and even prevention so people don’t ever get to that point of losing their career, their marriage or even thinking about suicide. The goal is to manage emotions, improve relationships and understand the importance of self-care.

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DID YOU know firefighters in the United States respond to more than 3,000 house fires a day? That’s more than 1 million house fires a year. Thanksgiving Day is the busiest day for house fires, with three times the number as any other day. 

Did you know that of the more than 350,000 people per year who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital in the United States more than 90% die and that just 6% survive? The American Heart Association says about 800,000 Americans suffer heart attacks every year.

The odds of survival increase if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is applied. If an AED delivers a shock within the first five minutes after a heart stops, the odds are 60-70%.

Every minute that ticks by means roughly 10% brain loss, so after 10 minutes, you have basically no chance of surviving. It kind of makes you want to carry an AED with you at all times if you are prone to heart problems.

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NATIONALLY, STUDENT-loan debt has doubled in the past decade to $1.4 trillion. As with most problems, no one seems to have a good solution to this dilemma.

Progressive leaders think the only answers to the problem are to forgive the existing debts and to offer free-college educations for future students. Those ideas need more work. If they are seriously considered, why would anyone continue paying off their loans?

The national student loan debt average for the Class of 2017 was $28,288, according to LendEDU’s Loan Debt by School by State Report.

Wisconsin ranked 33rd nationally, with a $29,569 average. Of the Class of 2017 across all Wisconsin colleges and universities, 65% left school with loan debt, 45% of UW-Madison’s Class of 2017 graduated with debt.

Many Wisconsin taxpayers are fighting back against the progressive ideas about loan forgiveness and free college educations. Those ideas don’t have or show compassion for the innocent taxpayers who will be left holding the bag.

Taxpayers are asking authorities why financial institutions and institutions of higher learning aren’t being held accountable for some or all of the unpaid portions of the student loan debt.

They allowed students to spend four or five years earning degrees that don’t translate into financially-secure careers. The government aided and abetted these students and institutions by guaranteeing loans. The loans were made without proper taxpayer representation.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. We now have millions of young adults collared by debt. Maybe ways can be found for these student loan debtors to pay back the loans in non-cash ways that benefit the education systems?