With the recent deaths of the 19 heroes from the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team in Yarnell, Arizona, it is becoming ever increasingly clear that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects more than just soldiers. Among our unsung heroes are the brave men and women in our fire departments, EMTs and police departments. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be involved in combat to suffer from the effects of PTSD. This condition can develop after exposure to any traumatic event, such as a sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death.
But firefighters are a unique group, as they not only have to deal with the same occupational stress issues as the common citizen, but are also exposed to events that involve trauma, death and loss on a regular basis. Nobody calls the fire department because something good is happening. Sometimes the stories have happy endings, but all too often the endings are tragic. Unfortunately, many of these incredible fire service members suffering from PTSD are not comfortable asking for help, and when they do, few PTSD services are equipped specifically for understanding the struggles of a firefighter, as more emphasis is put on helping active duty soldiers recover. Keep in mind as well that fire service teams are exposed to traumatic events on a daily basis for years on end – often for the length of a career. Combine that with the major traumatic events, like the Yarnell wildfire or the events of September 11, 2001, and there is a potent combination of risks that contribute to PTSD that are simply not addressed in the public sphere.
Not only do we need to thank our civil servants at every opportunity we can, we need to shape our dialogue to form a more open and accepting culture that accepts responsibility for protecting those who dedicate their lives to protecting us. Substantial social support and the knowledge that there is nothing “wrong” with having PTSD, and therefore nothing to be ashamed of, can do a lot to help ease the burden of those who must experience trauma on a daily level. In addition, providing the best care and treatment possible, such as the PTSD treatment program at A Place of Hope, is the duty of every PTSD caregiver. If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD, or for more information about our programs, contact A Place of Hope online or call us at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 for a free consultation today.