Alexandra Jabr, EMT-P, began her EMS career in 2003 and holds a master’s degree in death, grief, and bereavement. She is an adjunct faculty in the EMS department at Victor Valley College and currently completing her doctorate in depth psychology. Alexandra is the creator of Emergency Resilience, LLC and the course “Death Communication for First Responders: How to Deliver Unfortunate News.”
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Your host Jerry D. Lund can be reached at 801-376-7124 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or voice message use the icon microphone at www.enduringthebadgepodcast.com. Please feel free to give my information to anyone that might be feeling down or anyone you would like to be on the podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. If you like the podcast please share it and join the online community at www.instagram.com/enduringthebadgepodcast.
Jerry Lund : All right, I think it's going. Alright. Welcome to Enduring the Badge Podcast, my very special guest is Alex Jabr. Did I get it?
Alex Jabr : You got it.
Jerry Lund : All right. That's always the hardest part for me is people's names. I don't know why it's just like a pressure. But I'm happy to have you on the podcast today. And I'm so excited to talk about your company and just your journey of just trying to improve first responders mental health. Let's tell the audience a little bit about yourself. Yeah.
Alex Jabr : Well, thank you for reaching out and asking to have me on, I really appreciate that. Um, I guess the easiest way to start is gotten in this field in 2003. I've been licensed since then, I'm a paramedic, but have not worked in the field for a couple of years had a pretty significant back injury back in 2017 2018, it was few years ago, took about two and a half years to recover from that, where I got the green light to go back to work, had surgery. And it was a bit of a bit of a journey. But by the time I had gotten the green light, just life kind of took me in a different path. And by then I was working for a fire department working in CQI and training and whatnot. And, yeah, I just, I ended up where I'm at now, which is developing my own curriculum. I'm also a teacher, I've taught paramedics and EMTs for over 10 years. And I decided that there were things that we were missing, not only in just curriculum, standardized, but also continued education, I kind of got tired of the same BS over and over again. And I thought, Okay, this is kind of boring. And then when I wanted to bring up certain things, it was, Oh, we don't have time for that. Or, you know, that's not as important as getting this done, because it's a requirement. So my company was kind of born out of frustration. That's how I got here now .
Jerry Lund : A lot of great companies have been born out of frustration. So you had your back, see your back injury, let's go back to that a little bit. You're out of work for a couple of years with that?
Alex Jabr : Fortunately, I was already teaching at a pretty high capacity at one of the colleges I'm at right now. And so thank God, I was able to still work I wasn't able to fund Shin so I had a lot of really good carpool buddies that would drive me so that I could lay down because I couldn't sit, I couldn't sit up. I couldn't stand for long periods of time, I couldn't sit. You know, laying down was really my only comfort and so was very grateful those first few months where I was really even hard to dress myself, I had the help I needed not for my co workers when it came to dressing but like my significant other at the time, but you know, he would carry my stuff out to the car. And you know, my coworker would come and drive me up and I could lay down the whole time there. And I had this little cart on wheels that was very pathetic that I had to carry her. I had to drag around the campus because I couldn't carry anything. And if I dropped something somebody was always picking it up for me. So yeah, it was a it was a very much a team effort getting me through those first few months.
Jerry Lund : That does that does sound very rough. Did that injury happen on the job?
Alex Jabr : It did. It did. It didn't. So what's interesting, and I always tell people this, you know, I would denial is really fun. And when it comes to back injuries, and you know, I would you know, I caught my myself moving a patient over and you just twist wrong. It's always wondering, you're not expecting it. And I was just like, Oh, you know, it's just a muscle. I just, I just pulled a muscle and I thought you know, intuitively I thought maybe I should tell my supervisor this because I'm not coming in tomorrow on tomorrow's a holiday and I'm going to get a write up. Yeah, if I don't document you know why I'm calling off. So I went in the office the end of the day, and I said, you know, just want to document and he goes, do you want to go down to campus and now it was okay, and gives me the whole spiel, and I call off and I'm clear to do that. And I just thought it was just a muscle. Well, that was in 2012. It was right before either Christmas or New Year's in 2012. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, five years later, it just went out. It just completely went out. And they ended up doing a I went to my private doctor because I thought I had leg pain. I just kept saying I can't feel my leg. Like I can't walk on it like it's my whole leg and he goes let me do let me do an MRI of your back and I'm like why do you need that? Yeah, I had a I had a 23 millimeter herniated disc in my last one. And for comparison, anything over a seven usually warrants a surgical consult. And the highest my surgeon of almost 20 some years that ever done was 70. Dang. Yeah. So I went back.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, right, right. Shoot that. So how did that just the mental side of that affect you like I was out of work for 500 days for injury is sustained on duty. And, man, it was just, it was really tough, tough to go from being so active to just being not active and not working, which is right is our norm as first responders. Right? Well seemed like we put in, you know, way more than just the basic few hours that are wish a few less hours than we need to we're always, you know, working extra or have side jobs. And so mentally, it was just hard hard. I had some very dark times that I've shared on other episodes, you know, that have led to thoughts of suicide during during that time. So I know how hard that can be. How was that for you during that?
Alex Jabr : It was a complete identity crisis. I mean, I was...
Jerry Lund : Relate, I can totally relate.
Alex Jabr : There was nothing I loved more than being a paramedic. And I know that's very ego thing. And you know, the persona, and, you know, they're there, there's something to it that I just found so much of an identity with and I was very proud of, and I love doing it, you know, I it was what I always wanted to do was, you know, work on an ambulance and Breton calls. And there was a point where I wanted to work for fire department. But nonetheless, I, I was happy where I was, that was my goal. And so for that to just get ripped away, like that. I mean, it was just I'd worked a ship the day before. And then I had to call off for the day after and I just thought "What the hell's going on?" [Yeah], so it was an identity crisis. I did go to it. I was definitely depressed. In hindsight, I wasn't diagnosed at the time. But I'm like, Okay, yeah, I was absolutely depressed. I coped a lot with alcohol. You couldn't get me to get off the couch, though. I mean, even when I did start having better days, and I got my pain managed, you know, to even just get out and go for a walk wasn't on my list. And I just thought to myself, you know, I was in school at the time, I was finishing my, I think I was finishing my Masters where I just started it. And I thought, well, if I'm stuck on the couch, at least I'll you know, sit here and read and write my papers and do that. But nobody realizes at the time how distracting pain is, yeah, it just, it's all it consumes your time, it consumes your mind, you're like moving like, does this make it hurt? Does that is still there, you know, joining new, you know, don't eat up, take another dose of motoring. And I mean, I I more motoring than any other food, I think at that time. It was just constantly trying to just keep the inflammation down. But one thing I did do was it increased my awareness of that risk for other people. So when I ran into a friend who ran to a friend, about a year later, and I was still injured, and he had had shoulder surgery, and I asked him, you know, how are you holding up? And I told him, I said, I went to a really dark place, and I got hurt. And he just looked at me like, nobody really gets it, you know, like it just, you're suddenly forced to slow down all your coping mechanisms? Are you healthier? Why, like the healthy ones are hard enough to do and all the healthy ones are gone. You can't work out? You can't. You know, I don't think it's actually healthy to stay busy. But that was my most effective coping mechanism. In general, yeah. And I couldn't do any of that anymore. So it really did open my eyes to pay attention to injury as a risk factor to mental illness when it came to our own.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, I think that's something should be on the radar for all all departments are, you know, when that injury happens, and the person goes out for an extended period of time, even over a few weeks, that they should be on the lookout for some signs and symptoms of some, you know, depression coming.
Alex Jabr : And the risk of substance abuse within our products as well. You know, it's the way I see it. Our bodies don't know the difference between abusing a narcotic versus I should say, No, let me take that back. It regardless of our intent, physiologically, we're going to develop some degree of a chemical dependency if you're on a narcotic for an extended period of time, even a couple of weeks is enough to, you know, need to wean yourself off and have a little bit of a, you know, withdrawal effect or side effect, at least when you've stopped so that can, that can go sideways. Really quickly, I saw it happen to somebody that I used to work with who ultimately died, unfortunately, of suicide. And that was kind of there were so many other factors involved, but it was an injury that he had, and doctors really trust first responders and they go, here's this narcotic and here's that product and thinking, Oh, they want to use it. Yeah, I don't know the difference.
Jerry Lund : Yeah. Yeah, I think many listeners probably can relate to having someone that they've worked with, get hurt and start abusing narcotics. And, you know, I know I've had a great friend that passed away, same thing got hurt, and just that slippery slope of being in pain all the time and not working and you know, taking pain medications, and then increase the dose and it just a terrible cycle, cycle that end up, you end up losing his life over that you have it's too common, too common. Do you said that you had a partner that committed suicide?
Alex Jabr : He was. So I used to work as a single function EMT back in 2008 2010, almost 11. With Orange County, so in Southern California, we have a fire department that would have ambulances in house with single bunch of EMTs. And so I was one of those. And so he was one of the firefighters that was there. And that was a great time. And I thought that was such an amazing job. And he and I had stayed in touch, I'd stay in touch with quite a bit of them actually, over the years. And, you know, one day he posted that, you know, he was back to duty, you know, because he had been out for I think shoulder surgery, if I remember correctly. And he posted a picture like on Thanksgiving of the engine, the one that we used to, you know, the house we used to work in, it's like, oh, cool, it's awesome. And then a couple days later, he died. So you know, it's just, um, there's a lot that goes into it. I wasn't working there at the time. And, you know, so I don't have the intimate details. I just had hearsay from some of his closest people about what was going on. But, um, you know, I and so I don't know, specifically everything that was going on. And so I won't share that here. But you know, having been out on injury. Yeah. You know, that just, there's so many different things that could go wrong with that. And just, just yeah, definitely, it definitely hit a lot of us very hard, because he was the epitome of your, you know, he was like the firemen that everybody would want to be and he was, you know, he had the odd one on the outside, everybody would think you would want, right. And so it really rocked a lot. It really surprised a lot of people.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, yeah, I've known in the fire service, some of those same people that have end of the year you think they have at all it's all put together, everything's going great. They can't see anything that would cause a problem in their life. And the next thing you know, they've, you know, committed suicide. And it's just and it does, it rocks everybody's world. But, you know, slowly as the industry we're starting to turn things around. But it's, I think it's very slow, needs to be a lot faster. And [yeah, it's hard]. Yeah. And so you've seen that right. With your with your going back to the beginning of our conversation, you've seen that there's a need to change that. That's why he developed your company right out of that frustration to see some changes. What were those big changes that you needed to that you wanted to see?
Alex Jabr : Well, one of them is set the root of all of it is that I think there's a need, there's a benefit to outsourcing everything. But to a degree, like we need to help first responders be their own helper, we need to make them the biggest resource for each other. And you know, it's a lot harder to get somebody to show up for a class that says, "Here, this is going to help you work through a hard time" as a lot easier to say, "Hey, this is going to make it easier for you to support the one next to you going through a hard time", and I'm not talking about peer support. But you know what I mean, like you it's hard to and so if everybody is showing up and open minded to everybody around them, then you create kind of a safety net, right? Like maybe they're not ready to face their shit. And that's fine, too. But in the meantime, can we create a culture where it's more acceptable or more accessible? to be that person for the one next to you? And so, um, you know, I just think it's, I think it's lovely, I think it's wonderful. Actually, I applaud when departments have social workers working for them, or psychologists or they have comp contracts with therapists. And they bring in debriefing teams and CISD, and peer support and all that, I think that's awesome. And, and we need the ones at the end, we need the ones on the floor. I realize they're not their best, but they're human beings. And if we teach people what healthy and unhealthy coping mechanism looks like, and what a risk factor looks like, and, hey, if one of the guys in your house, one of the girls in your house go out on injury, this is what you can do to check in on them. This is what you're more at risk for. If this happens to you, heads up. I mean, because of my old partner that I worked with, I didn't take narcotics when I got hurt. I took it for one day. And it didn't really help anyways, it was too painful. And I knew there was no amount of narcotics, I was going to take away this pain short of harming me, you know, so I thought I'm not even go there. I learned from him. So that was where a lot of it came from. Yea, that was it.
Jerry Lund : So what are some of the risk factors and warning signs that we can be on the lookout for?
Alex Jabr : You know, I think the easiest thing to share is my so if you've ever heard of met Ben Burnin. [I have no] he is a firefighter. Okay, he's excellent. I'll put you in touch with him. But he's a firefighter in San Diego, who was stabbed on a call. And he developed PTSD afterwards and went down the hole, bravo rabbit hole, trying to find some help and couldn't and then finally found a great therapist. And so now he's an advocate for it. He speaks all over the nation. About his story and just how he found, you know, how this saved his life, you know, because he couldn't sleep he couldn't sleep. And that makes you go out of your mind as it is. So yeah. Yeah, so he. So he and I have actually collaborated quite a bit, we're really excited to for some of the stuff we've got coming out, but one of the things he's come up with is something called the terrible tons and I don't know them all off the top of my head, but a couple of them. Basically, these are like warning signs that you can look for in your peers, basically. And one of them is suddenly taking a lot of time off. So if all of a sudden or I'm sorry, if their vacation bank or PTO or sick time event drops below a certain percent, that is a cue to check in. Like all of a sudden, you've you've been sitting fat on your hours, and all of a sudden they're gone. If there's any significant, any abnormal death on a call, they check in if anybody says, um, if anybody at any time after the call goes, Hey, are you good. He's like, that's, that's an excellent time to call in your support. And let's just do a debrief. Like if anybody has to say that something happened that might be bothersome. So they, you know, I really appreciate his kind of take on it, because it's also very proactive. It's like, Hey, you don't have to wait till catastrophe strikes. avoidance is one of the ones I've seen. So when somebody runs a call that sits poorly with them, they will call off the next couple of shifts, they won't want to be there or they'll kick and scream for being there. Anyway. So that kind of ties in with the hours doing laying down. And, you know, an injury is a big one, like I already talked about. Anybody going through a significant life event, you know, divorce, huge. Yeah, divorce is a huge one. But any significant life event, somebody getting married, buying a house moving, having a new kid in the house, Oh, my gosh, being a new time parent. These are very significant events that cause stressors and even worse, you're supposed to be happy about them. Like, why are you depressed? Like, why are you sad? Why are you drinking more over this, if you should be happy, you have a son now and it's like, they're still stressful, and just acknowledging that they're just stressful. And that you'll, you know, I'm not suggesting that doing all those things lead to suicide. I'm just saying they're, they're things that we can keep in mind for each other. And then you know, the big ones obviously being divorced, I would say, divorce and injury, I see that I see a pattern with that what those two things.
Jerry Lund : That's good, good. Those are good ones. I mean, as I sit here, and I think about all those people that fall into those categories, and whether I've checked up on them or not, or seen changes and stuff like that. Those are great. What happens to us when we hold these things inside, and we don't deal with them? Or we don't talk to people about these, like bad calls or stressful situations or having, anyway, you, we cope with, you know, different ways of alcohol and stuff like that. But what, what about like, internal, like thought processes and stuff? you have any ideas on that?
Alex Jabr : So what happens to us when we don't talk about it? We don't? Yeah, yeah. So what happens, especially if there's a really strong emotion attached with it, we don't process that it actually gets stored in your body for later. So the best way to describe it is have you ever been driving on the freeway? Or the highway and you have a patrol officer called behind you? And their light bar goes off? Maybe you don't? Because you're like, Oh, shit, like, I could be going the complete speed limit. I am going to get an adrenaline dump. Like, [Right Yeah, everybody]. Okay. I mean, anyways, so if you can relate to that, yeah, that happens. And then they pull off and pull over somebody else, like, Oh, thank God, but that adrenaline dump is still there. You know, like, my body thought I was getting ready to flight and my mind goes, No, you're not, you're gonna stay right here. So um, you know, just trying to and then I'm stuck on the freeway, like I've got, you know, another 30 minutes to go, then, you know, then I'm stuck. Like literally all that gets trapped into my tissue, fascia muscles for later. And enough of those events build up. And it comes down in its own way. So when I've been angry at somebody when I've been sad or upset or stressed out, and I talked myself out, I'm like, Nope, it's fine. Like, I'm just gonna let it go. Or, you know, now's not the time to cry, that doesn't go away. It gets stored for later. And there's a thought process. Philosophy by I think it's Freud, actually, that the quote was basically that it would unexpressed emotions will get stored away and come out later and uglier ways. I'm totally butchering the quote. But it's basically saying, if you've ever seen somebody that you know, just gets to their breaking point and just completely loses it. That's it. It's like this eruption. So it's not that one thing that pissed them off. It's not that one thing that broke, it's that you know, straw that broke the camel's back kind of thing. And it's this eruption of just so much stuff that's pent up so when we don't talk about it when we don't express it when we don't get it out of our bodies. It doesn't go anywhere. stays there.
Jerry Lund : What's the best way to express it? I'm sure it's probably dependent on everybody you know, it's a little bit different. But what's your thoughts?
Alex Jabr : Personally moving is one of them. So it sounds kind of silly but while I was driving so this happened to me yesterday Actually, I had a cop come up behind me. But it wasn't for me it was for the semi truck and girl but after that adrenaline dump I just kind of shook my arms and shook my hands You know, like I just did that while I was driving because I'm like, "Can I can I release some of this?" you know, get this out of me. Um, so it's not just working out like once a day which I'm terrible at doing but in that event, like you know, you get you have any type of you know, stressor moving is what we need to do and when we collapse and freeze instead it doesn't process through us you know, you got to remember that that adrenaline is there to help us flight fight do all those things when we don't do that just get stored away for later when it comes to other emotions crying so pay so I love this I learned this from I think I learned this from my pharmacology instructor. There hammer my therapist one of the two but um, if you pay attention to your tears, there are cooling tears and there are stinging tears. And cooling tears usually happen when we're moved by something when they're like kind of happy tears or tears of joy, that kind of stuff. Or this release of you know, emotion. And we're stinging tears usually happen when we are upset or stressed and both of them are releasing emotion but both of them are releasing hormones. But after I was told to pay attention that I could totally tell when I was having, you know, the stinging tears versus, but tears are a way to release that emotion as well. And I love to repress that.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, most people don't like to cry. I think
Alex Jabr : Avoidant as they get so yeah, that's so you know, it's not always talking talking about absolutely is, I would rather avoid somebody on that other than talk to them about it, which I'm very aware of that flaw in myself and working on it. But, um, yeah, those are some other ways.
Jerry Lund : Ah those are great, you've had a kind of a journey with through your life that probably brought out some I want to say like mental health challenges, like your mother passing away before starting EMT school. And how did you deal with that challenge?
Alex Jabr : I started EMT school. I just got a letter I got busy. That's exactly what happened. In fact, you know, the real breakdown from that didn't happen till months later. You know, if you've ever had the unfortunate task of planning a funeral, it is, to me I've never planned a wedding either. But it is the equivalent of planning a wedding in like seven days, you have to, you know, invite all the people, you got to get the church, you got to get the venue, you've got to get the caterer, you know, you've got to do all these things you got to do in seven days, it was just crazy to me how quickly everything happened. And so there was no time to grieve. There was no time to process and go through that I was busy. I mean, granted, I wasn't as busy as my sister was she did miss the planning. But yeah, it was months before it really hit me.
Jerry Lund : Had you know, like, that was the emotion coming out from that event.
Alex Jabr : Oh, I finally cried. I mean, you know, your cry a little bit. But yeah, yeah, it was finally just this, you know, release of it. And it felt good. You know, it felt good to, to feel that. But yeah, I would say it was she was the first person I knew that died. I'd never been to a funeral before that. And so that was pretty significant. Yeah, that's pretty significant. But hmm.
Jerry Lund : Did you just feel like a somewhat of relief after crying after that? Do you just like, like a weight had been lifted off your shoulders?
Alex Jabr : Yeah, and I don't think I recognized it as that at the time. Because I associated crying with bad and I still kind of have those program beliefs as well. But yeah, I do feel better after I cry. I feel better after I talk about really challenging things with someone that I would have otherwise avoided it with them before. And um.
Jerry Lund : So yeah, talking about some of your program beliefs. How do you how do you get programmed on these different beliefs, you know, like crying is bad.
Alex Jabr : So this is where our childhood comes in.
Jerry Lund : Always comes back to the childhood.
Alex Jabr : Therapists always want to talk about someone's childhood. So um, yeah, I would say so a majority of our program beliefs come from childhood. So what 90 to 95% of our thoughts and behaviors are thought driven behavior is on unconscious programming. So meaning it is set in stone, and the other five to 10%, which some people think it's even less than that is our conscious thoughts. So I tell myself, I'm not going to eat garbage, I'm not going to eat sugar. [Yeah] And I can make this conscious thought to not eat sugar. And if it is programmed in me, to reach for sweets, when I am under an acute amount of stress as a coping mechanism, then that is going to be a very challenging habit to break, when stress gets triggered. That's just one example. Another one would be, you know, I was talking to someone that said, I, I don't cry, he goes, you know, that was not something that was allowed in my house growing up, he goes, so even though I know it's okay to cry, now, I can't physically let myself do it. Because I can't stop thinking, you know, he's just conditioned to behave a certain way. So when he, you know, gets into these, you know, explore some psychedelic experiences. His his, his observation of it was, that's the only time I feel safe crying. You know, that's the only time that I'm able to get into that space, where I'm not going back to who I was, you know, the way I was raised. And we don't think about these things. I mean, there's, there are so many programmed behaviors that we are not even aware of their unconscious, yeah, their subconscious or unconscious. And the biggest, you know, some of the best self work you can do, that I've been challenging myself to do, is to look at that, what are these things, because a lot of times, they're not pretty, they're not the things you like about other people, they're not the things you like, you would want to emulate. But, um, so to sum that up, we have what's called prefrontal cortex in our brains, and that's usually responsible for thought, emotion, conflict, and, you know, judgment, making good decisions. And there are, I don't remember which wave it is, but there's different you know, your theta and your beta and delta waves and stuff like that in the brain. And there's one of the waves that doesn't quite start until like age seven or eight. And if you've ever heard people say, like, you could teach a five year old 10 languages, like they have the ability, the capacity to absorb all these languages, it's because that it's because of that they can literally be just you can dump so much. I mean, children are legitimately born geniuses, and they have this action potential to be influenced positively and expansively and we just think, oh, they're just kids, you know, they don't know anything or you know, we don't play with their creativity are weak. You know, the older they get, we talked them out of their creativity and that's what it can also be bad for. Anything that happens before that age before. They have the ability to discern those, those complex issues. So you have kids that are growing up in homes with a parent in prison with a parent that dies with a parent who is abusive, who's an alcoholic, who has a significant illness. All those things, especially in the ages of seven and under eight and under, can profoundly impact the way they're programmed behavior.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, that's, it's pretty crazy, that you, you form so much about yourself at such an early age. And then you spend quite a bit of your life trying to like figure out, hey, how do they get to be this way? And how can I fix this or change it or recognize it? I think that's a lot of that, for me is taking time just taking time to think about things and just reflecting on them. And not in a negative and tearing down type of way. But just ways that I can, like, realize that I'm thinking and acting this way. It's some conditioned behavior that I've learned, I need to change that. It's it's take, it's doing the self work, which is it's a it's it's crazy hard. But which is what I said, it's crazy hard.
Alex Jabr : It is hard, it is hard.
Jerry Lund : What, what we know
Alex Jabr : I think you're gonna ask what I'm about to say, go ahead.
Jerry Lund : Go ahead. No, good.
Alex Jabr : So that's the thing I've been the most challenged with is realizing now i'm not saying just because you know, only 5% of our thoughts and thought driven behavior is conscious. And 95% of it is unconscious. I'm not suggesting that. That means we can ever tap into the unconscious. But the best way to describe it is there's a scientist named Bruce Lipton, who studies a lot of epigenetics.
Jerry Lund : Yes, I am.
Alex Jabr : Yeah. So he describes the unconscious like yelling at a answering machine to get it to change the outgoing message. Remember, back in the day, when we had little answering machines, we'd record it. And then that would be what people hear when they call on your own home. He says it was like yelling at that. It's programmed. It's already in there. It's downloaded. It's programmed. You can't you can yell at her all you want to stop smoking, to stop drinking to start opening up more to tear down these avoidant walls that you have, you can yell at it all you want with a conscious mind with your conscious attentive knowing your life will be better for it. And it's not going to work until you find the record button. [Yeah] And so that record button looks a lot different for different people. And this is where my interest in hypnosis has come in. Meditation with a good practice can can definitely help. This is where stuff like treatment like EMDR I'm not as familiar with things like brain spotting and biofeedback but I know that that is is been helpful in the past for some people. This is where psychedelic medicine comes in, where people use utilize these these substances, whether manmade, or are plant made, to tap into that unconscious and to go in there and heal it and address it and process what stuck in there. And integrate it into what your conscious behavior is so that you can change your patterns.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, so what are your thoughts on the psychedelics and their therapy, therapeutic effects?
Alex Jabr : I am all for options for people. And I'm, I'm actually studying ketamine for PTSD and firefighters right now. I am getting my PhD in depth psychology and I am a candidate. So meaning I've finished all my work now I'm just working on my dissertation. So I should have should be done in less than two years. Should be.
Jerry Lund : That's awesome. I'm excited for it. I'm excited to hear it. I know a little bit. Yeah. The ketamine treatment. Just Just the brief amount of information about ketamine for PTSD. Highly expensive treatment though right now.
Alex Jabr : Exactly. Yes. So I, so I'm still learning about it myself and all the different types. And I think that there are pros and cons to every type of therapy, and it's going to be highly relative. And so my role as an advocate is to make all these options aware and create pathways that make them accessible. So one of the things I'm working against is ironically, there is a big stigma around things like ketamine, there's a big misunderstanding, you know, some people go, Oh, well, it's a schedule one substance and it's illegal and you're gonna get drug tested, and I'm like, it's not a schedule one. It's not illegal under the medical use for this, it is used like this all the time. And it's really hard to drug to ask for it. I mean, if that's even a
Jerry Lund : Yeah, if you're getting therapy, right? I mean, if you're getting therapy, what would you be worried about?
Alex Jabr : Yeah, but you know, and I understand what those are. But I think that's where education comes in. And that's where my role is, you know, teaching these things happen. And so I think the biggest downfall is the expense, the cost of it. But it's not more expensive than, you know, I was talking to a friend who's a union president, and one of the fire departments around where I live. And he was explaining to me that, you know, the cost of sending some of their guys out to a retreat for a week, you know, they go to these firefighter retreats, it's like 4500 bucks, who's, or they send even guys out to our people on their floor out to training, and they have to pay for a flight, you know, when they have to go far away, or the time off that they have to backfill and he goes, it's really not more expensive than that.
Jerry Lund : Yeah. That's a good point.
Alex Jabr : You know, but now we have to Yeah, so maybe you take that top 1% who are having like, that acute crisis, like the ones that you're like, if we don't do something about this now, like, he's not going to function, or she's not going to function and or it's, it's going to be more detrimental to wait? Um, maybe you start there. And I don't know, one day, maybe it'll be FDA or it won't be, what's the word, it won't be covered by insurance until some bigger things happen, unfortunately. So but it is usually covered by flex spending accounts. So people have those, those things where they put pre tax money into it, and they can use it before the end of the year. Most of the ketamine practices do take that.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, I think when I looked into it here locally, it was out $300 per treatment, which is one treatment, like an hour places. Wow. Yeah. I was like, Yeah, they're gonna need to come in three to five times. And I'm like, whoa, whoa, that's, that's, that's getting up there not, not a lot of people can afford, you know, to spend that kind of money on therapy.
Alex Jabr : No, they can't, they can't get that. So. Yeah. And usually, when you're in the place where you need it most, you are the last person that has the energy to advocate for yourself like that. You know, so that's where my, my bigger goal is to create some sort of pathways, whether it's educating their unions, and their health and wellness programs that, hey, this is an option for them, but they need your support. They need your support, because it's expensive, because it's expensive, and they need to know that their jobs aren't on the line, because they're utilizing this treatment. It's a very, it's a, it's approved for this, it has been done across the nation, and for several years. And it's it's just proving effectiveness in every study that they're doing. So
Jerry Lund : Yeah, yeah. What? Yeah, I like them. What are some ways to stay resilient? I mean, going through these difficult times as a first responder, what are some ways to stay resilient, because I feel like your resilience as you use in this career field longer gets less, quite often, you become less resilient, instead of feel like you should be more resilient?
Alex Jabr : Well, I think understanding what resilience is, is a huge part of it. And, you know, I, at one point, that the resilience meant I wouldn't let anything get to me that I could let things slide off my shoulder that I could, you know, get through a shift without getting pissed off at somebody that I could run a really heavy call and not, you know, have it weigh on me afterwards or not have these like ruminating thoughts where I play a call over and over in my head and think about everything I did wrong, or things that I could have done differently. And instead, I found that resilience is going through all that. It's born, it's forged, out of the days that are the hardest for you, and the moments that are the hardest and the losses. I read it kind of a funny meme today that was like, I'm tired of being resilient. Like, I am tired. Like, I just want to be soft. And I want to be unchallenged, and I want to be left alone. And that made me laugh because I thought myself that someone who gets it you know, resilience doesn't come innate to us. It is not something that is naturally born in any of us. It is something that we acquire over time. And, you know, suffering is I personally believe that suffering is part of the human experience. Um, and it's these moments of adversity. It's these things that I've been through my back injury and losing my mom the things I went through as a child, those things all contributed to my resilience. And so it comes through in these moments of adversity, it's, it's the time afterwards and it's learning to go through a hard time and reflect back on ways that you might have coped before and going okay, maybe, maybe it's now's not the time to pick up a drink. Maybe now's the time to actually have that. Just sit in the suck of it all, and, and let myself experience it. And then turning around and finding a way to alchemize that pain into something else. I think it just kind of all comes together. But resilience is not being unfazed. That's the last thing it is.
Jerry Lund : Yeah. Yeah, that's when I have these conversations, you know, with guests like you, I always, like, go into myself and think about all these times. And sometimes I catch myself as we're talking like, yeah, she's right. I know, I need to do this. Like, it's a kind of an always an awakening, right, I can do better, or I need to do make changes. And I love how, you know, I feel the same way the suck does suck. But like, it's preparing you for something like it's building you. And I'll be honest, I think the younger generations can't handle the suck in life, like they are broken by like the littlest of things for some reason. And, you know, it's false. Clearly part of it on parenting. And the other part, I'm not sure. And we can blame the other crap on social media and stuff, whatever, how it's affecting their brain, but it's, they're so fragile. They're so fragile and and wish they weren't so fragile.
Alex Jabr : Yeah, you know, I definitely see what you're saying. And I will say that that self reflection that you mentioned is something that I do often, it's all the stuff that I said, I mean, easier said than done. It's not I'm not coming to you. I've got it figured out, trust me. But um, you know, I look at you know, what some of our are those that came before us, you know, those who lived through World War II and Vietnam and stuff, and it's like, you know, they're they had their own limitations. We have ours, they had theirs. Yeah, and what can we learn from both of them? You know, what, what can we learn to take from and what can we learn to leave behind because it wasn't really about the, you know, the whole bootstrap era, like suck it up Buttercup, from our baby boomers. And you know, there's a lot and you know, I have this theory that every generation, talk shit about the generation that ahead of them, and now like, yeah, Millennials are gonna kind of take the torch from the Gen Xers, you know, the baby boomers. Like, this is exactly what happens. We see the, you know, the past on him, and pointing out what what's awful about them. And so I just think it's, it's, it's an interesting thing, but you know, doesn't make those observations wrong at all. I know what you mean. Um, there was an area that I used to work in, where there was a lot of these type of younger people. And when these people would call 911. The motto was hugs, not drugs, like they just needed a hug.
Jerry Lund : Style powerful medication than that, right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how things play out right, the different generations and stuff like that, and how, personally how I think that they're a little bit fragile, to see what where that takes them. And you know, through their life and stuff on a different where we can find the middle balance where we can find them out of balance. That was, let's talk a little bit about your, your company. They, and where people can find you, too. We want to get that out as well.
Alex Jabr : Well, thank you. The easiest way to find me is on Instagram @emergencyresilience. And if you go to my website, which there's a link in that bio to it, but emergencyresilience.com is where you can find me. You'll find some courses. So I have one course right now that's up. And it is on death notifications. So it's the skill of communication is what I call it, and it's this psychosocial skill that I feel has been heavily lacking in our system. Always, we've actually never addressed it. It is not something that is in state curriculum. It's not in national curriculum. Um, it is briefly mentioned in classes like ACLs and whatnot, but it is one of those things that should be talked about more than it is. Most TMS books have about one page dedicated to it and they might talk about grief they might talk about the challenge that it will present to pronounce people on scene. But this is actually a skill, living breathing skill that needs to be not only discussed in the classroom, but also practiced in the lab and practiced with, you know, updated training with when, as you're going through learning new things and applying, applying your practice. So, yeah, I was shot class that's available right now.
Jerry Lund : That's awesome. I want to share a quick story with you that I didn't tell you. So you posted a thing on Instagram under story about this about death notifications. And it was just a little, if you remember, like a little brief description on how on how to tell how to do it better, or how to do it properly. So I go to bed at the at the station. I just happened, I catch your story, I read it three hours later, we have a full arrest. And I have to do the death notification. So I did take some information off that story. And I and I used it. I hope it seemed to go better just making a few tweaks. So she's got great stuff out there you guys that you got to like, just that doesn't take much to pick up on right, this is just little things that took me I don't know, probably a minute to read. And you know, and what a life changing thing for me and for the, you know, the people that I have to give the definitely vacation to
Alex Jabr : Oh, that makes me so happy. Not you know, obviously that you had to go tell someone that their family member died. But, um, it makes me happy that that was a resource that you were able to quickly implement. And that's probably the number one compliment I get is. So I hate online courses. So you have my support with that, even when I asked you to take my online course the irony of that. But I am very to the point. Most of the videos are under 10 minutes long, the modules are very quick. It is ends up being a three hour course. So you get three hours of C's with it. But you know, one of my my buddies took it. He's like, "Did you do that on purpose? like did you make these like really small and short on purpose?", He goes because I told myself I was gonna do one video. And he goes, and an hour and a half later. He goes, You tricked me. You tricked me to keep pushing the Next button because they were so fast. And I was like, yep, that's it. I there was a lot of psychology. That's awesome. The way I formatted everything. Yeah, and I think you and I, um, I was really happy with the way it turned out. But I, it took me a long time to put it into an online format. I do it locally. I've done it locally in the past, here in my backyard, basically. But yeah, I wanted something that was going to be easily accessible. And you know, the first day, I want to see the very first sale I had when I launched in January was in the UK. And now there have been students in 10 countries and 20 some states and I've only been up for a few months. And I know nothing about marketing. It's really just been word of mouth. So I'm very, very blessed, and how quickly It's moving.
Jerry Lund : That's super cool. How much is the class to take it?
Alex Jabr : It's $39, you get three C's? Yeah. And you just jump on and take it when you want to finish it when you can and collect your C when you're done.
Jerry Lund : That's great. So other classes will be coming out?
Alex Jabr : Mm hmm. Yeah. And so it's a matter of what I'm trying to do. So I'm in the process of the course itself is is CAPC accredited, which is a, it means it's gone through a fine tooth comb has gone through a curriculum review panel. But now I'm in the process of getting CAPC accredited for my organization as a whole. So that's taking a little longer, it's a beast of a process. And once that goes through, I'll add because right now my Cs are from the state of California, and most other places will accept the state of California, but I'm trying not to convolute things and have Yeah, I want to be able to switch everything over to CAPC which is yeah, which is the C provider. That's a national C provider. So once I do that, I'll be able to add more. But yeah, there will be additional courses on occupational resilience. There'll be additional courses on just topics around death. So hospice palliative care, Death with Dignity type topics, controversial topics, topics that we don't really spend a whole lot of time talking about mental illness, mental health, different things like that. So there's stuff that I've done in person, or that I've researched on my own through through my schooling, and that I'll finally be able to put into an online format and just make it more accessible to others.
Jerry Lund : That's awesome. And hopefully you can travel out and do some of these classes as well. So people want to bring you in.
Alex Jabr : Yes, I have been invited to do that. So it's just a matter of the logistics and each place has their own limitations. And once they're open, we'll get going. That's super cool.
Jerry Lund : I love how you found a void in the first responder world and are failing that I, I very much appreciate that. Because right, I've spent one minute reading something and then been able to implement that. And that was something that will back me right through the rest of my career, being able to just take little bits of information like that from you. And just be better at my job.
Alex Jabr : Oh, well, thank you. I love hearing that. I love hearing that that was helpful. And that's my goal really is, you know, I don't post every day, because if I'm not in a creative space, or I've got other things going on, I don't try and push it, I only post what's you know, authentic and genuine to me in that day. So those like maybe three weeks that I was just not in a, I was not in a headspace to do anything, but focus on myself. And so I didn't post anything. But when you go to that page, what I hope you find is, is just what you got out of it, which is, you know, a little tidbit a little nugget, that you can go okay, I can do this, like, see what see what you can apply to it. And then let me know how it went. You know, I I'm always open to hearing. This didn't work. Why didn't work? And yeah, let's go through. So you click, you have to mess up a few times. And so, yeah,
Jerry Lund : before I let you go, I always ask my guests this one last question. What impact do you want to make in the world?
Alex Jabr : Hmm. Well, when I think of the whole world, it just, there's a lot of pressure there. So I'm just gonna go with my world. I, I'll go with that. I want to what I want to leave is showing others that, you know, you don't have to ask permission. Sometimes, you know, I waited for a long time, I thought about doing what I'm doing right now for a long time. And there was an epiphany I had a couple years ago where I went, why am I waiting for somebody to invite me through that door? Like, see any I'm just going to do this on my own and instead of waiting, because otherwise, I'll be waiting forever. So create that door, you see something, go do something about it. And nobody else is gonna do it for you. So with this attitude, my intent is to change the current standard, which there is no standard. There's no standard, there's no curriculum around death notifications for us.
Jerry Lund : So you're setting a standard even better.
Alex Jabr : Wow, it didn't it didn't exist. I had to create it.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, I love it.
Alex Jabr : Oh, that is my goal. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do.
Jerry Lund : I appreciate it. Well, thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you so much for being on today. I'm excited to see where you go and your company develops and I hope to see you out traveling the world giving these you know, programs out.
Alex Jabr : Oh I appreciate it so much. Thank you for having me on. I really enjoyed this conversation.
Jerry Lund : Yeah, no, I did too. Thank you so much.