Public Safety’s Five Stages


The five stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. The five widely accepted stages are, in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The mind processes grief very much the same way it processes the five stages of a career in Public Safety, only ass backwards! It doesn’t matter if you are a police officer, firefighter, EMT, dispatcher, soldier or correctional officer, the emotions experienced are universal, and need to be experienced to be fully understood. They go something like this.

1. Acceptance

“I made it! I’m now a sworn in member of the Public Safety world! Everything is going to be smooth sailing from here on in, my dream is reality, the world is my oyster, it’s time to make a difference, save some lives and make the world a better place!”

2. Depression

“Wow, there’s a whole lot of nothing going on, and when something does happen it’s usually pretty un-dramatic. Where’s the excitement, the lights and sirens, the bells and whistles, the throngs of adoring people lavishing me with praise?”

3. Bargaining

“If I bid a different truck/assignment/shift, take a promotional exam, make rank, move to a busier part of town then I’ll find what I’m looking for!”

4. Anger

“This is bullshit! All I do all night is chase the radio/take nitwits to the hospital/answer box alarms and babysit the public. Sure every now and then something “good” happens, but when it does somebody usually dies, or worse!”

5. Denial and isolation

“It’s not so bad, the pay is decent, and I get this neat uniform, and every now and then the public really needs me, but until they do I’ll just sit here in my office and play on my computer.”

Learning to cope is imperative, and understanding each of the five stages as they occur will help you navigate a difficult career. Remember, work your career one shift at a time, and enjoy each and every moment, because at the end of the day, and when all five stages are exhausted, it’s still the greatest gig in the world.

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