The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015
framework to create a preexisting accepted concept that investing into our own mental health and longevity was necessary for us to be able to continue doing what we are doing at the highest level.” Steinherz pointed to a biblical passage (Deuteronomy 4:16) stating that
"If we are not taking care of ourselves we cannot take care of anyone else."
the Bible tells us that we must take care of ourselves before we set out to take care of other people. “If we are not taking care of ourselves we cannot take care of anyone else. They understand this on airplanes as every video states that you need to put your mask on before helping others for the very simple fact that if we cannot create our own ability to function we cannot be there to help anyone else. So not to develop in an EMS system the concept of self-care, their own personal emotional immune system allowing them to process and share their emotional difficulties with others that will allow them to receive the support that they need to be able to function properly in the field, then we are doomed as an EMS organization.”
B A LT I M O R E J E W I S H H O M E . C O M
endless traumatic scenes and don’t have a natural culture or framework within the EMS world in Israel to be able to deal with these experiences. Most often responders are so busy that they never stop to process their own experiences and really understand what they are going through. These things build up, and as much as a person tries to run away from their own experiences and their own suffering, we know that if a person keeps suppressing these emotions then one day they will wake up and try to look at themselves in the mirror and they won’t recognize themselves. The reason we began the unit was that I, together with Miriam Ballin and others, felt that it was incredibly important to create a cultural shift within the EMS
MARCH 22, 2018
bine all of my talents and help people in a complete way, by answering all of their needs by utilizing all of the talents available to us as responders.” Steinherz explained, “I always believed that we need to have an in-house psychological care for our EMS responders who are exposed to
Steinherz quoted statistics that showed that in the United States and around the world the profession with the highest level of PTSD is EMS, and paramedics specifically. “More than the military, police and even firefighters, paramedics have the highest rate which is above 20 percent. So statistics show that we were doomed without a self-care system being put in place.” Steinherz ended off the interview with a message of hope. “G-d took the time to create you because you have strengths that no one else has and you received those gifts because you have a contribution to give to the world that no one else can give. But if you never take the time to ask the questions of ‘what are the special strengths that I was given? What do I need to give back to the world?’ Then you will never find the answers and you will never fully come to appreciate a true sense of fulfillment. Because that comes from a personal relationship between man and G-d and if you aren’t working to enrich that with your entire being, then you’ve missed the entire point. “Once I realized this, I changed my own rhetoric and realized that our abilities don’t give us more responsibilities, but rather, they open the door for us to have more possibilities.” On a personal note, he added: “I have been given, together with all of my fellow first responders, the ability to touch and affect other people for the better at the worst moments of their lives. That is what I have decided to dedicate my life to, as do all of my fellow responders around me. This level of giving to others is now being incorporated directly into a first response system and it is a game changer. Our model provides a medical, emotional and spiritual support system in active traumatic situations, or what I term, whole-person support. This is exactly what a person suffering a trauma needs. We see the qualitative difference that we are making among the people who are suffering. And the results speak for themselves.” Steinherz said that he believes that in another handful of years, every EMS system across the globe will have a similar unit helping people deal with the emotional and psychological distress of their traumatic situation.
THE BALTIMORE JEWISH HOME
master’s in clinical social work specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and schema therapy. Simultaneously, I became an EMDR practitioner who specializes trauma therapy. To top it all off, I did become a surgeon of sorts when I became a mohel,” he quipped. Waxing philosophical, Steinherz said: “I believe that all human beings are complex and that each person has at least three or four deep and broad worlds. That is why when we chose the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response logo for United Hatzalah we chose a number of puzzle pieces interconnecting. If a person doesn’t integrate all of those worlds together, then they are only having a fragmented experience. The more a person integrates these worlds the fuller an experience that individual will have. Each person has an intellectual world, an emotional world, a spiritual world, and a physical world. Fully actualized mental health is about how we take these elements and put them together so that we can all have a full experience. That is really the theme of what we are talking about. If a person has gifts and abilities then they need to tie them all into together into their lives in order to live a fully experienced life. When that stops, or something blocks it, such as a trauma, people need help to get back to living a fully experienced life,” Steinherz asserted. Steinherz himself tries to live this way and actualizes all the abilities that he has and uses them to help others. That is one of the reasons that he is so dedicated to his work as one of the leaders of the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. “I’ve always had this passion and felt that there is so much more that we could be doing. When I was working as an EMT I saw that we were only touching people on the physical aspect and dealing with their physical suffering. This was utilizing only one aspect of our abilities to treat one aspect of their being. We can help people with our complete abilities and provide a fuller treatment. Through the Psychotrauma Unit, we take volunteers and get them to help people in a much fuller and more integrated way, helping their physical ailments as well as their psychological and emotional needs. This, for me, was a way to com-
Baltimore Jewish Home - 3-22-18