First responders may try to conceal stress reactions from supervisors because they fear stigma and because they want to avoid medical or psychological intervention. However, recognizing the signs of Orange zone stress in oneself or a peer, and taking steps to lessen the severity, is important. Practicing self-care or helping connect a peer with trusted support may help prevent stress reactions from progressing into the Red zone.
Four types of stress are most likely to move someone into the Orange zone:
Life Threat: Feeling as if self or others are in a life-threatening situation. In law enforcement and fire service, a life threat can also include experiencing a "near miss" or "close call".
Loss: Grief due to the loss of close comrades, leaders, family members or other cared-for individuals. This can also include loss of role, functioning, relationships, and values.
Inner Conflict: Inner conflict can result from acting outside of one's morals or values; from an inability to prevent harm to others; or through contributing to or not preventing harm to a fellow officer. Indications for inner conflict include the words: "could've, should've, why me, if only."
Wear and Tear: The result of fatigue and accumulation of prolonged stress, including from non-operational sources, without sufficient sleep, rest and restoration.