If you are a firefighter in California, you will likely be a good candidate for developing post-traumatic stress disorder. The rate of PTSD in first responders is reportedly higher than in any other occupation. While most people might deal with traumatic experiences once or never in their lives, firefighters could encounter multiple traumatic events throughout their careers.
Reportedly, the repetitive exposure to traumatic events increases the risks of firefighters developing PTSD. An exacerbating element is the unpredictability of their shifts, in which they never know what the call would bring. They often race from one accident to the next.
Examples of traumatic events
Studies have shown that the significant number of traumatic events to which firefighters respond come in different types, some of which include the following:
- Deceased victims of crime who died of unnatural causes
- Severely injured victims of auto accidents
- Stress experienced during efforts to save the lives of infants and children
These are but some of the events that affect the stress levels of firefighters.
PTSD risk factors
Studies have also identified the following specific factors that are risk factors in PTSD development:
- Entering a career as a firefighter at a young age
- Having had previous treatment for other disorders
- Being in a supervisory position or rank at a fire station
- Being unmarried
- Experiencing horror and fear during traumatic events
- Dealing closely with death during a callout
- Experiencing personal trauma such as the death of a loved one
- Feelings of losing control over your life
- Feelings of inadequacy or weakness in being a firefighter
Along with these factors, you might develop hostile feelings toward your job.
Safety authorities point out that not all firefighters develop PTSD. Protective factors could reduce stress and trauma and prevent the development of PTSD. Having strong social support teams at work and at home can be invaluable. Developing effective coping strategies can reduce the impact of multiple events of trauma in the line of duty.
In California, first responders are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that are not readily available for employees in other occupations. However, there is no guarantee that the insurance provider will provide fair compensation to all firefighters. If you have PTSD, it might be a good idea to discuss the matter with a workers’ compensation attorney who has experience in fighting for maximum benefits for first responders.