Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Chicago Paramedics need help for their own lives

Chicago paramedics need our help to save their own lives
Chicago Sun Times
By Phil Kadner
August 7, 2018
As Frank Crossin, coordinator of the fire department union assistance program, told me, “We were all required to take a four-hour class on how to put out a pallet fire when I was in the department, but there were no mandatory classes like that on PTSD.”
Twelve people were killed and 71 shot in Chicago over the weekend. More than 1,700 people have been shot so far this year. And almost every time, Chicago paramedics are on the scene trying to save lives.

When a man used a knife to nearly decapitate the head of his 2-year-old son, Chicago paramedics responded.

At every horrific traffic accident, each time a teenager overdoses on heroin, when a baby is physically abused, or someone’s flesh is burned in a fire, the paramedics are there trying to save a life.

Yet, to my amazement, nobody has ever done a study of the toll taken by the stress on their lives.

There is no medically trained mental health expert (psychiatrist or psychologist) employed full-time by the Chicago Fire Department to monitor their well-being.

As one field supervisor told me, there is no mandatory class, no significant training, to help paramedics identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or help supervisors deal with people suffering from such symptoms.
There needs to be academic research on the impact of stress on Chicago paramedics. There needs to be a baseline mental health analysis conducted so evidence of stress can be tracked over years. And mental health professionals ought to be employed to make this a real priority within the Chicago Fire Department.
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