After enjoying ‘the best job in the world’ he submitted to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and saw a catastrophic downturn. He’d sensed that downturn in other firefighters. When two committed suicide he wondered how to stop it. Psychiatrists didn’t seem able because they hadn’t helped him, but maybe he could find a way. He embarked on an academic career and motivated by the loss of those colleagues learned how to prevent suicide. Now he teaches others to do it.
John is the Chair of Crisis Response at Applied Metapsychology International, Board member of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and Educational Sub-committee member of Crisis Intervention and Management, Australasia. He peer-reviews for psychiatry and psychology journals and recently appointed European editor of the journal Crisis, Stress and Human Resilience. He gained evidence-based status for Traumatic Incident Reduction in 2012 and critical incident stress debriefing in 2017 with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration in the USA. In support of the Metropolitan Police Service Dr Durkin led trained-firefighters to address the psychological aftermath of the Croydon Tram derailment, the terrorist attacks in London in 2017 and the Grenfell Tower fire. Over a year later no case of PTSD has been reported in the 120 police officers the team saw.
John runs training programmes to become a facilitator in the STAGE-28 psychological risk assessment process. This training offers techniques that have been successful in veteran, terrorist and mass-fatality incidents.
I first met Dr John Durkin after the Grenfell Tower fire in London. He and his team of firefighters showed remarkable expertise to help my officers offload their mental anguish in the way they did. None reported sick following their intervention and I’d expected many not to cope or else develop mental health issues.