‘Facing the monster’: Spokane firefighter battles PTSD
The Spokesman Review
March 3, 2019
“It turned out to be a very difficult recovery from the injury. A lot of pain, sleepless nights, strong medication. … Somewhere in that process, all of the events I’ve witnessed over the years and all the sadness just flooded back to me.” Lou FranchinoNot long ago, had you asked Lou Franchino, a Spokane firefighter for 23 years, if he would ever return to work, he would have said no.
He was experiencing extended bouts of insomnia. While awake, he described a near-constant state of anxiety. Traumatic calls flashed through his head at a breakneck pace: People who shot themselves in front of their family members, people who died in fires, from sudden infant death syndrome or a heart attack at a family dinner. Franchino was having breakdowns, erupting into tears at a moment’s notice. He felt trapped as a car passenger.
“It’s like being on anxious, high alert, all day long, 24 hours a day, you just can’t turn it off,” Franchino said. “And you talk to yourself like ‘Come on, calm down, you’re safe, everything’s fine.’ You can’t turn it off.”
Franchino sought answers from multiple doctors and everyone arrived at the same conclusion: Franchino was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Luckily for Franchino, Washington legislators passed a law last March which allowed him – and all other first responders – to receive treatment through workers’ compensation. A similar bill is expected to be signed in Idaho by Gov. Brad Little.
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