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Stress First Aid

What is Stress First Aid?

A person at a desk in front of a computer being hounded and stressed out by a number of co-workers with needs.
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Stress First Aid is a framework to improve recovery from stress reactions, both in oneself and in coworkers. Stress First Aid was originally designed to support military personnel, and subsequently tailored to support a wide range of occupations, including wildland firefighters, emergency services personnel, law enforcement, and natural resource professions.

This method of assisting a co-worker undergoing stress recognizes that disasters and “critical incidents” are not the only stressors that professionals face. Stress can be ongoing and cumulative, resulting from multiple sources. While the source of stress is important, it is more important to recognize the intensity of the reaction to the stress.  Stress First Aid introduces the Stress Continuum, to illustrate the characteristics and effects of increasingly severe reactions.  Color coding simplifies how we talk and understand our stress reactions.

Stress Continuum Model

Stress First Aid describes what elements are needed in order to recover from stress, but it doesn't define how to apply those elements. It is a practical, flexible model that is best implemented based on the people involved, the situation, and what resources are available. For more information, please contact Behavioral Health and Employee Wellbeing at 

Circular chart showing the Seven Cs of Stress First Aid - 1. Check, 2. Coordinate, 3. Cover, 4. Calm, 5. Connect, 6. Competence, 7. Confidence


Stress First Aid Resources

Stress First Aid Instructional Materials

All Stress First Aid program material is housed on the Wildland Fire Learning Portal. Our Agency/Interagency Stress First Aid Instructors have attended a Train-the-Trainer course instructed by Dr. Patricia Watson, co-author and Psychologist at the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. All Agency and Interagency employees who have attended the Stress First Aid Train-the-Trainer course since 2017 have access to materials on the Wildland Fire Learning Portal.