Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

Argosy University


post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rescue personnel, first responders, stress, trauma, coping


Mental and Social Health | Nursing | Psychology


The purpose of this study is to examine relationships among stress, coping, and years of service in rescue personnel. One hundred sixteen voluntary subjects employed in Fire/EMS service in a small southern city participated in the study. Subjects completed a demographic questionnaire, The Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS), and The Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS).

The incidence of symptomatic stress for the sample was 19.8 percent, higher than the general population but comparable to rates found in other studies of rescue workers. Calls involving children were rated as most disturbing by the subjects. There was no relationship found between years of service and stress or coping in the total sample or those with symptomatic stress. Age was found to correlate positively with trauma scores and negatively with social diversion coping in those identified as having symptomatic stress. Stress scores (total DTS) and emotion-based coping had a significant positive correlation in all subjects. This study supports previous research pointing to the stress encountered by those in emergency service professions. The link between emotion-based coping and symptomatic stress is similar to other studies finding a relationship between neuroticism and stress symptoms in rescue personnel. The findings also suggest that the risk of developing stress symptoms may increase with age. Further work could help separate the effect of years of service and age in relation to stress. The amount of exposure to traumatic situations and its relationship to stress also needs further study.