Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Firefighters Raising Alarm of PTSD

Firefighters Raise Alarm About Risk Of PTSD In The Ranks
New research indicates PTSD might be as common among firefighters as military veterans.
Houston Public Media

Three Houston firefighters have killed themselves in the past five years, according to White.

Dave Fehling | Houston Public Media
Volunteer firefighters training at Texas A and M’s Disaster City in College Station
Firefighters from the U.S. and Canada are in Las Vegas this week for the biennial convention of the International Association of Firefighters. One of the main topics of the conference this year is post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We know that it’s increasingly on the rise,” said Alvin White Jr., the union president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association and a conference attendee.

White says it’s not clear what’s contributing to the increase – it could be simply that more firefighters are willing to seek treatment. The 9-11 attacks also helped to de-stigmatize the disorder among first responders.

“Before that we tried to deal with it ourselves,” White said. “We’d self-medicate ourselves with alcohol and try to take care of it that way, because it was a sign of weakness.”

A report released Tuesday from the International Association of Firefighters summarizes the most recent research on PTSD. Estimated rates among firefighters range 9 to 20 percent, which is comparable to the rate in the military.
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