Showing posts with label paramedics and PTSD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label paramedics and PTSD. Show all posts

Sunday, January 12, 2020

EMS workers suffer trauma too

Cleveland EMS workers suffer trauma, too — so why won’t city help its helpers?

The Plain Dealer
By Andrea Simakis
January 12, 2020
Chuck followed them, fighting the tears building in his eyes. Then it was on to the next call.

Former Cleveland paramedic Charles Cali sits in his kitchen January 8, 2019. Cali left his job because the city won't agree to common sense mental health protections for its EMS workers. Gus Chan, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — When the call came in, paramedic Chuck Cali and his partner hoped it was a mistake, or some feeble attempt to get the fire department there faster: “Neighbors report there’s a man on fire walking down the street.”

Then they turned a corner.

He was just standing there, not waving his hands or yelling. All his hair had been burned away. So had his clothes. Naked and still smoldering, everything that had made him recognizable was gone. Everything but his wide eyes.

“Am I going to die?”

As he spoke, part of his lip broke and flaked off.

The 23-year-old had suffered more burns than the decorated Cleveland paramedic had seen on some cadavers, and yet here he was, talking to them.

He wouldn’t tell them who had tied him up and set him on fire. If he told, they’d promised to do the same to everyone in his family.

“Please call my Dad.”

“Not now,” Chuck answered. “We need to get you to the hospital.”

A doctor took one look at him and declared him dead. “He’s still talking, sir,” Chuck replied. Three nurses left the room, crying.

Chuck followed them, fighting the tears building in his eyes. Then it was on to the next call.

There was no time to decompress, to make sure their heads were clear enough to treat the next critical patient.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

First-responder from Collingwood died by suicide earlier this week

Sometimes it's not enough: how one PTSD survivor tries to save others

Barrie Today
Erika Engel
November 23, 2018

“Support for families is what we found was lacking,” said Angie Stevens, Bryan’s wife. While Bryan was first dealing with symptoms of PTSD and occupational stress, Angie didn’t know where to turn. “You go into this silent position because you don’t want to tarnish their image,” said Angie. “So you try to help them on your own.”

Bryan Stevens is the founder of Frontline Forward. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A former air ambulance advanced care paramedic may no longer be treating wounds mid-air, but he is still caring for the wounded and broken.

Bryan Stevens is the founder of Frontline Forward, an organization and facility designed to support and educate front-line workers affected by occupational stress and dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He experienced PTSD first-hand and made the decision to retire early as a result. Through a support system, professional counselling, physical therapy, meditation and more, Stevens has learned to cope with PTSD and work through the symptoms.

“Thank God I battled through it, but it’s still a challenge,” said Stevens. “You can have all the right people around you and things to support you and still sometimes that may not be enough”

A first-responder from Collingwood died by suicide earlier this week. Mike Scott was a firefighter at Central York Fire Services in the Newmarket and Aurora area. Before that, he was a firefighter on The Blue Mountains Fire Department. Scott’s family asked for donations to Frontline Forward in lieu of flowers.

Stevens said Scott was a good friend, and the two talked often about working as a first responder and dealing with PTSD. Scott’s funeral is today, and Stevens came to Collingwood with his wife, Angie, to attend the service.

“It’s a heavy burden to carry all this hurt,” said Stevens, quoting a song by country singer Kevin Davidson, a former first-responder. “We have to come to understand we don’t need to carry all that burden.”

Understanding was the first hurdle for Stevens, a 30-year veteran paramedic with 12 years in Peel Region (Mississauga) and 18 years as an advanced care paramedic for Ornge based in London.
read more here

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.
read more here

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Australia Paramedics High Suicide Rate

World first: Guideline to manage post traumatic stress disorder among emergency workers launched in Sydney Australia
Benedict Brook
OCTOBER 29, 2015
Sometimes that toll can be devastating. According to the National Coronial Information System, 110 Australian emergency service workers committed suicide between 2002 and 2012 — that’s one police officer, firerie or paramedic every six weeks.

Paramedic is one of the occupations with Australia’s highest suicide rates.
Picture: Marc McCormackSource:News Corp Australia
AS A paramedic, Jordan Emery was used to witnessing people in intense pain and raw grief at the very moment of their most desperate suffering. For the most part, he was able to manage his emotions and remain resolutely professional. But this call out was different.

“A motorcyclist was seriously injured,” Mr Emery told

“He had horrific injuries and he spoke to me a lot on the way to hospital. He had this very strong sense that he was dying, his injuries were consistent with that and he wanted me to tell his mum and brother how sorry he was for what had happened, how much he’d loved them and how good they’d been to him throughout his life.”

“He was the same age as my little brother,” a clearly moved Mr Emery said, “it was a dialogue between me and a complete stranger but it struck me because, in many ways, it felt like my little brother was lying there before me.”

Mr Emery said it was often those cases where the victim reminded them of someone in their own lives which affected emergency personnel the most — parents responding to an injured child, for instance, or an elderly person who had passed away who was the same age as their own parents.
“In the past, there might have been this idea that it’s your job to get over it, that you’re supposed to be tougher than this if you’re a paramedic,” he said, “but for me it’s about honouring the traumas you see rather than the idea that you shouldn’t think about it.”
read more here

Monday, April 28, 2014

Canada tour 48 towns and cities raising awareness about PTSD

Cross-Canada tour in 48 towns and cities aimed at raising awareness about PTSD
APRIL 27, 2014

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Cpl. Jamie MacWhirter has been through the nightmares and angry outbursts of post-traumatic stress disorder, and he has a message for those struggling alone.

“If you believe you have a problem, if your wife or spouse has said anything to you, it doesn’t hurt to go and talk to somebody.”

MacWhirter chronicled his 2006 deployment in Kandahar and subsequent troubles with PTSD in his memoir, “A Soldier’s Tale: A Newfoundland Soldier in Afghanistan.”

He’s now working on another book about his long journey back to better mental health.

On May 5, MacWhirter will speak in St. John’s to help launch a cross-Canada tour aimed at raising awareness about how soldiers, emergency workers, police, correctional officers and others are affected by PTSD.

The Heroes Are Human tour organized by the Tema Conter Memorial Trust in Toronto will include stops in 48 cities and towns. Two-hour community meetings will be free of charge for anyone wanting to learn more about how to cope with a still highly stigmatized condition.

MacWhirter said it has been especially hard to learn of recent suicides involving soldiers and veterans of the Afghanistan mission.

“People are afraid to come forward and admit that they need help,” he said in an interview. “Most soldiers, they’re taught to hide the pain. They’re taught to soldier on and continue work.

“It’s hard to change your thought pattern and say, ‘I need help.’”
read more here

PTSD I Grieve from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

UK takes a look at paramedics and PTSD

Now ambulance workers fall victim to battlefield stress
Independent - London,England,UK

Crippling condition remains taboo among paramedic colleagues

By Terri Judd
Friday, 7 November 2008

During a 20-year career in which he was among the first to reach casualties in the 1996 Manchester IRA bombings, paramedic Jon Bradshaw routinely walked into scenes most people could not comprehend.

When colleagues discovered he had developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they left a letter pinned to the station noticeboard addressed to Jonathan Bradshaw, Chief Ambulance Skiver, c/o The Padded Cell, Rampton Secure Mental Institution (sic). Inside they had inscribed a series of jokes. One read simply "Sick!! RIP".

Although PTSD is now taken seriously by the armed forces, the crippling condition remains taboo among many sectors of the ambulance service, so much so that researchers at King's College London, are about to begin a new research project into the illness.

The Healthcare Commission's annual staff survey found that 34 per cent of ambulance workers had suffered work-related stress last year.

An assessment of Oxfordshire Ambulance Service staff in 1999 estimated that 20 per cent of workers were suffering from PTSD, with cot death rated as the most traumatic event they had to deal with.

With the introduction of stricter response times this year, more ambulance workers are being sent out alone and have less opportunity to talk through traumatic events with colleagues.

"People in this profession are resilient but nobody is totally immune and extreme stress can get to anybody," said Professor Anke Ehlers, the clinical psychologist leading the study into different predictive factors which might help identify and minimise PTSD among ambulance workers. New staff will be interviewed at intervals.

The long-term aim is to develop a prevention programme where paramedics will be taught how to recognise the symptoms as part of their standard training.

Mr Bradshaw, 39, said that suffering from stress carried a stigma: "There is a culture that if you say you have PTSD, depression or anxiety, they think you are nutty. I know of several people who are suffering but they are all being treated abysmally."
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