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Police, Paramedics and PTSD: When on-the-job trauma affects your work

  • Published: August 24, 2016

It’s no secret the county workers who protect and serve our communities witness tragic events on the job. Public servants assigned to high-crime areas may endure numerous traumatic experiences in a single shift. From dealing with domestic-violence calls to car crashes, homicides to 4-alarm fires, for the police officers and paramedics who answer these calls, death and destruction is an all too familiar occurrence.

Can someone get PTSD just by seeing someone else get hurt?

Many people think PTSD is something that primarily affects servicemen who have been deployed to war-torn areas. But the truth is that PTSD can affect anyone. And while it is especially prevalent in crime victims or deployed military personnel, PTSD can even affect individuals who have simply witnessed a traumatic event.

Repeated trauma exposure is cumulative–meaning that while a person might recover more easily from a single traumatic event, repeated trauma exposure compounds PTSD symptoms, making them more and more difficult to manage. In fact, according to a study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, individuals who had experienced more than 3 traumatic events were more likely to have complex symptoms, were more difficult to treat and had more unfavorable long-term outcomes.

Can I get help if my job causes PTSD?

The good news is that if you are one of the men and women who serve our communities, you can get the help you need. PTSD that was caused by your job is a medical condition covered under workers’ compensation. If you can show that your diagnosis and symptoms are a result of the cases you handle at work, you may be able to recover money for treatment and time off.

PTSD changes your life dramatically–depression and anxiety that accompany PTSD can cause marital problems and negatively impact other family relationships. Chronic hypervigilance can create real physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and a compromised immune system.

If you serve our community and you have PTSD, you’ve earned the right to take care of yourself. Now that you have protected us, it is time to protect yourself, your family and your future. Talk with your doctor about possible treatments and consider consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney to find out how that treatment may be covered by your employer.


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