Speaking of his experiences, Roger said: “A month after I retired in May 2013, things came to a head. I was sitting with friends in the pub having a leisurely drink and from nowhere I just burst into tears, uncontrollable sobbing. A complete screen-show shot across the front of my eyes of nearly every dead person I had ever dealt with.
“I was a trauma instructor and so I was involved and hands on with people who were ill or dying. So I have been with people as they have taken their last breaths.”
Recalling the impact such incidents had on his home life, Roger added: “Coming back to normality i.e. your house and your children playing in your garden or putting up the Christmas decorations, is one of the hardest things. You might have been recovering a dead body or picking up an arm or a leg, or watching a teenager die and then within half an hour you’re back in your home and your children are putting up the Christmas tree saying; “Daddy, Daddy, look at this.”
Such incidents were understandably hard to process at the time and Roger admits that it has only been since his retirement in 2013, once removed from the bosom of support that came from being a part of the fire service and with time on his hands, that the impact has been truly felt.
“When you’re in the service it’s a bit like being in a pressure cooker and that pressure was only really released once I’d retired,” he says. “However, I was sort of aware that things had been getting bad for perhaps the last four years in the job. I was being very verbally aggressive and argumentative with family and friends, but I kind of just put that down to the stresses and strains of the job.
“When you’re in the service it’s a bit like being in a pressure cooker and that pressure was only really released once I’d retired”
“A month after I retired in May 2013, however, things came to a head. I was sitting with friends in the pub having a leisurely drink and from nowhere I just burst into tears, uncontrollable sobbing. A complete screenshow shot across the front of my eyes of nearly every dead person I had ever dealt with. It obviously terrified everyone in the pub because they couldn’t see what I was seeing.”
Roger received Psychological Support from The Fire Fighters Charity, learning the tools he needed to cope. Having worked with a member of the Charity’s Psychological Support team Roger speaks appreciatively of the support he was given: “If she hadn’t been there I would definitely be self-harming now and there’s a reasonably good chance I would have committed suicide.
“She pointed me in the right direction with the support that I have now got, she is the one who started it and is probably the main reason why I am now going in all the right directions and able to use the tools I have to cope. The support the team at the Charity has given me and the ways they helped me has been fantastic. They are all brilliant and help you to realise you can do a lot more than you think you can do. It’s up to me now.”