There’s an overwhelming need for improved support for those who help us in times of need, and the mental health of first responders has become a priority for many within the industry. Morgan K. Anderson, MPH, an epidemiologist with ImageTrend, is an individual on the forefront of helping first responders by calling attention to the lack of data on this topic. Anderson and ImageTrend worked to create the CrewCare project, a multi-mission initiative involving a mobile solution for gaining insight into stress loads, reasons for burnout, and mental health concerns in the emergency response community.
CrewCare is a free and confidential mobile app funded by ImageTrend that’s specifically designed for any type of first responder. CrewCare helps pinpoint where areas of stress originate, directs users to resources that help manage stress, and provides nationally recognized crisis contacts for first responders. In addition to the personal awareness at the individual level, the anonymous aggregate data is compiled and analyzed to provide industry-level insight as to how we can do better to support our responders. Organizations can also get involved to gain insight into the anonymous and comparative data in order to understand additional support that is needed among their crews.
Anderson, who joined ImageTrend in January 2017, graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2011 with a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology. Prior to working at ImageTrend, she spent five years with the Army Public Health Center as an injury prevention epidemiologist. Anderson has published research and articles in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the American Journal of Sports Medicine, Public Health, Military Medicine, JEMS and others. She has a consistent track record that has been research focused on the health and wellness of various populations and continues with her passion for EMS/fire through the CrewCare initiative.
With the CrewCare project Launched in February 2018, the CrewCare app has already been utilized by over 3,300 individuals. Results are already being reported through presentations, articles, webinars, and data will appear soon in peer-reviewed publications. The industry is gaining valuable insights into the unique stressors of a first responder’s daily life. Topics being explored include burnout, sleep deprivation, lack of employee support, mental health and coping mechanisms.
Some powerful themes that have already emerged include the following: Almost 80% of CrewCare respondents are sleep-deprived; 83% want to lose weight; 44% of respondents said they felt burnt out in their career and/or current job; and almost 70% said they felt down, depressed or hopeless several or more days per week.
This is only a small fraction of the valuable information that CrewCare is uncovering. Anderson is committed to making a positive impact to drive awareness and change on the mental health struggles of all first responders. According to Anderson, “It’s truly a humbling experience to focus our efforts towards the well-being of those who help us in times of need.”