Understanding Compassion Fatigue for First Responders and Criminal Justice Professionals

Understanding Compassion Fatigue for First Responders and Criminal Justice Professionals
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-04-06
Unit 1Slide Deck: Understanding Compassion Fatigue
Unit 2Transcript: Understanding Compassion Fatigue
Unit 3Workbook: Understanding Compassion Fatigue
Unit 4Recording: Understanding Compassion Fatigue

Who helps the helpers when they’re the ones who need help? Work for those in the helping professions – law enforcement, medical, EMT, animal control, fire, dispatch – seeing people suffering, in danger, or life and death situations can certainly take a toll physically and mentally. Given the nature of the field, it entails proactive steps to be able to counter compassion fatigue before it even happens and build resilience to bounce back easily.

This session’s resource is Wendy Hummell, a law enforcement veteran of more than two decades. She is currently the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office where she helps her fellow First Responders overcome stress, trauma, and compassion fatigue through easy-to-adopt tools.

Specifics of this webinar include:

  • How adversity changes us– the carrot, egg, and coffee bean in boiling water conundrum.
  • The concept of post-traumatic growth where an individual who’s been through challenging times comes out of the circumstance with better understanding and positive growth.
  • Differentiating post-traumatic growth from resilience.
  • The Professional Quality of Life Scale that puts an individual’s compassion into a spectrum where at one end there is compassion satisfaction and the other is compassion fatigue.
  • The etymology of compassion, its meaning, and the component of action in compassion present in those in the helping profession.
  • How compassion fatigue may manifest
    • Burnout: What it is, who experiences it, what it looks like, and symptoms that may serve as red flags.
    • Secondary Trauma: How this happens, distinguishing it from direct trauma, its difference from vicarious trauma, and the common symptoms.
  • Understanding resilience as a quality that can be leveraged before during, and after the adversity.
  • How the sympathetic nervous system controls most of our responses and consequently impacts the immune system.
  • The concept of the toxic load, how it can lead to chronic disease, its sources, symptoms, and ways to reduce it.
  • Understanding how constant stress and hypervigilance contribute to weight gain.
  • Overcoming these negative outcomes brought about by the nature of the jobs through methods outlined in the blueprint for resilience.
    • Practicing better awareness and management of our body and its functions through body intelligence, and our emotions through emotional intelligence.
    • Breathing exercises that can regulate the nervous system.
    • Exercise and physical activity that positively impacts the brain, immune system, bodily functions and prevents diseases.
    • Utilizing anchor statements that can guide our thoughts and actions which will eventually turn into habits and becomes assimilated into our lives.
    • Remembering to Hunt for the Good, focusing on positive things and warding off negativity.
    • Observing mindfulness in our thoughts, feelings and actions, and activating this capability through meditation.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • References mentioned within the webinar.
  • How to handle situations where someone we work with may be manifesting symptoms of compassion fatigue.
  • Getting the agency to dedicate resources for wellness initiatives.
  • Effectively working on wellness for people from different professions.
  • Symptoms of compassion fatigue.


Other Webinars with this Speaker


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “I enjoyed the seminar. Need for seminars like this to make all of us aware of the fatigue we may experience on the job and in life.” — Greg
  • “EXCELLENT PRESENTATION! I look forward to utilizing the skills learned, as well as implementing a similar Wellness Program for First Responders in my State and County.” — Asia
  • “Resources and guidance/suggestions. Wendy was a great speaker and provided a lot of really great ideas on the importance of taking care of yourself.” — Aubrey
  • “Fantastic information and well developed. Look forward to more information on this subject.” — Billy
  • “Wendy is obviously a wealth of knowledge about this subject. … this was fabulous information and thank you so much for such an important webinar!” — Cheryl
  • Compassion includes the component of action-what a great (and memorable) way to say it! Great webinar! Thanks so much! — Denise
  • “Wendy is a rock star! Loved the information and the perspective!” — Brenda
  • “I absolutely loved it! Not everyone in LE wants to accept the fact that we are humans and practicing mindfulness is an absolute need for everyone. So many of us are so passionate about our jobs that we lose sleep just thinking about the best approaches to the unexpected situations that can arise at any moment. Great training! Podcasts downloaded!” — Evelina
  • “This was a wonderful webinar. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot about how my body is actually reacting to the environment around me. Wonderful information and truly useful. Thank you!” — Jennifer
  • “The webinar helped me recognize my symptoms and the staff that I supervise symptoms of Compassion Fatigue! Thank you!” — Jo Ann
  • “So very thankful for the fact that this webinar actually provided useful information about Compassion Fatigue. Truly enjoyed the presenter! And anticipate referring some people to her Guns & Yoga podcast.” — Christina




Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: Understanding Compassion Fatigue for First Responders and Criminal Justice Professionals. Q&A with Wendy Hummell
Webinar presenter Wendy Hummell answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Understa […]
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