Emergency response during the holidays can be the most challenging of the year. Increased focus, heightened emotions and historical stressors can create a difficult situation for any firefighter on scene of a holiday incident. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, 4th of July, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween or a simple birthday party — any holiday in any culture for any reason can be a major cause for increased trauma, physical or otherwise.
Statistically, heart-related deaths increase by 5 percent during the holiday season and fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas and the day after. Holiday candles are a direct cause for the majority of the over 15,000 open-flame related home fires each year.
Holidays reflect a change in environment. Traditions, symbolic decorations, expensive gifts, extensive costuming and all types of libations contribute to a different atmosphere. Add to this increased civilian travel and expenditures, intense dealings with family and friends and the eventual culmination of the event itself, and you have the formula for increasing stress.
By Jim Spell