Japan to train counselors for traumatized firefighters


The Fire and Disaster Management Agency plans to train counselors who can treat firefighters suffering from critical incident stress disorders brought on by earthquakes and other disasters.

The agency will begin training in fiscal 2013 to produce specialized counselors versed in the work of firefighters, sources said.

Last summer, the agency decided to station at least one qualified clinical psychotherapist or psychiatrist in each of the 47 prefectures to provide counseling for traumatized firefighters.

But counselors who have a firm understanding of firefighters’ jobs are in critically short supply, agency officials said.

Agency personnel will provide lectures on the actual working conditions of firefighters, while experts in critical incident stress disorder will discuss specific examples, such as one involving a firefighter who became traumatized after witnessing a colleague’s death while on duty.

Fire stations usually recruit counselors or seek therapists from the state, but due to the shortage of competent counselors, neither arrangement is adequate.