Resilience is our ability to recover from the stress we encounter. Whether we can bounce back depends on the stresses we face and the resources we have to help us cope.


Resilience is especially important for people like you who are in roles where there is regular exposure to potentially traumatic situations. Understanding the PROTECTIVE and RISK factors of your role will help you take care of yourself and your colleagues.


PROTECTIVE FACTORS are the things you value in your role as volunteer responders and that can keep you well. You have told us about several that you have experienced, which include:

  •  Pride in providing an important community service
  • Glad to give something back
  • Learning and developing skills
  • Camaraderie with peers and enjoying being part of a team
  • Social support from family and friends
  • Exercise


We also know that it helps to:

  • Be clear about your role and confident you can do it well
  • Trust the skills of your colleagues
  • Prepare and train
  • Feel valued and respected
  • Communicate and have a laugh


RISK FACTORS are the most challenging aspects of being volunteer responders:

  • Demands on your time and disruption of your personal/family life
  • Lack of resources
  • Exposure to traumatic incidents


We also know that it can be hard for emergency service volunteers:

  • When things go wrong or you feel mistakes were made
  • When you are threatened or in danger
  • When you’re exhausted
  • When normal coping isn’t possible
  • When you’re isolated or unsupported
  • When you can’t detach because you identify with the victims
  • When you can’t talk about what’s happened
  • If you’re blamed or undermined



The above film illustrates how resilience works.


This 5 minute film made with Scottish Mountain Rescue volunteers illustrates brilliantly the importance of recognising your own warning signs and knowing how to look after yourself and colleagues.


“Understand how trauma affects our emergency service personnel by watching this incredibly moving and important film.” Stephen Fry