034:  Helping First Responders Deal With Trauma With Michelle Powell

The Happy Nurse

034: Helping First Responders Deal With Trauma With Michelle Powell

February 10, 2021

034: Helping First Responders Deal With Trauma With Michelle Powell

First responders and nurses often deal with dangerous and life-threatening situations on the job. Because of this, the trauma and emotional stress that comes with their job greatly impacts their mental health which can cause burnout, depression and anxiety—to name a few.

In this episode, we are once again joined by Michelle Powell as we delve into how facing trauma on a daily basis in your professional life impacts your personal life.

Both the personal and professional lives of nurses and first responders may be negatively affected by the high degree of stress they face. There may not be much that we can change about the unknown traumatic situations that we as nurses or first responders will find ourselves in. However, there is a lot we can improve about the way we support our self-care and mental health before, during and after those situations. 

Let’s always remember to give ourselves the same compassion we so freely give to others.


  • Desensitization and constant state of stress (1:38)
  • Downplaying stress and trauma (2:40)
  • Fear of debriefing (5:28)
  • Being vulnerable when saying you’re not okay (6:05)
  • Fear of asking questions (6:16)
  • Trauma aspect and first responder aspect (6:38)
  • The impact of being a first responder on your day-to-day life (9:45)
  • Normalizing trauma which causes compassion fatigue (12:14)
  • What is compassion fatigue? (13:02)
  • What is vicarious trauma? (13:31)
  • Everyday people are first responders (20:10)
  • Nurses usually down play trauma (21:50)
  • Managing fatigue caused by trauma (23:30)
  • How being a first responder affects our personal life and personal relationships (27:39)
  • Downplaying it to yourself (29:15)
  • Practicing self-care before reaching burnout (29:50)
  • Different ways people reach their breaking point (32:00)
  • Why nurses downplay trauma (34:40)
  • The danger of comparing our trauma with others’ (36:00)


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