Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PTSD in Firefighters, First Responders & Other Rescuers

Two recent news stories highlight the oft-forgotten sufferers of PTSD: First responders, firefighters and other rescue workers.

First up, an NPR article about how the constant threat of working as a first responder or other rescue worker can build up until PTSD symptoms develop.

"Little by little, it just started to build, and then one day, the slideshow that was all these events started running in my head and I couldn't control it," Michael Ferrara told NPR. It all came to a head for him when a friend of his was killed while on duty.

According to NPR (itself covering a story from Outside magazine), PTSD often goes undiagnosed in these occupations because the men who fill these jobs do not like to admit when they are in emotional pain.

But better understanding of PTSD allows both managers and rescue workers to not only deal with their symptoms better, but to recognize them when they first show up.

An Ontario-based newspaper called Cottage Country Now also discusses how volunteer firefighters can be ill-equipped to deal with the trauma of their jobs. Part of this comes from constantly working with survivors -- or seeing those who did not survive. "You're seeing people on the worse day of their life; their house burnt down, they had a heart attack, something bad happened," researcher Brad Campbell told the paper. Campbell's study is one of the first major studies of PTSD in firefighters.


  1. I've been having problem's with sleeping and night meres cooled sweets and I have a very hard time sleeping at night. If I drink it goes a away for that night, the the next night is all comes back. My family does not understand what is going on but I dont know what to do... Can you help me before I loss my family??? HELP. P.S. I was a firstresponder for about 18 year.

  2. Drinking is just a depressant -- it may shut you down, but it won't help in the long run! Start calling therapists in your area and see if which of them specialize in trauma. Ask your family for help and make sure they understand what you're going through. GOOD LUCK!