Post traumatic stress disorder is nothing new, but it's only recently become better understood. Those who are first responders are often diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lifetime, and now, people are advocating for workers' compensation coverage for police officers, firefighters and paramedics to treat PTSD.
After dealing with a record-setting wildfire season and responding to several mass shootings in the state, first responders in California are both mentally and physically exhausted. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, there is significant backing for legislation that would allow them to file a workers' compensation claim while they take time off from their job to treat PTSD.
Workers' compensation coverage
While long available to those who are physically injured on the job, now legal experts and professional leaders are fighting to extend workers' compensation coverage to psychiatric injuries. These injuries that you cannot technically "see" must be treated in the same way as physical injuries, and therefore, workers should have the opportunity to utilize workers' compensation benefits through treatment and recovery.
Firefighters and other first responders in California support the bill working its way through the state legislature, because it would allow them to take time off to recover and then continue their career. The alternative, they say, is that many end up leaving the force early due significant psychiatric trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD
First responders are often subject to horrendous scenes that can leave both physical and emotional scars. Knowing that they are at high risk of developing PTSD, it's important that firefighters, police officers and paramedics are aware of the symptoms of this condition. Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:
- An inability to feel an emotional connection with the people and places around you. Many who suffer from PTSD begin to withdraw from the people that they care about the most.
- Constant and intense recollections, often in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.
- Insomnia and intense mood swings. Those suffering from PTSD can quickly become angry, agitated and jittery. They often have a difficult time sleeping, particularly for long periods at a time.
Resources for those seeking PTSD treatment
Fortunately, as there is more awareness about PTSD now than ever before, there are many resources available for those who need it.
First responders who are suffering from PTSD can work with both medical health facilities and mental health facilities to get the care and treatment that they need. Those who need to take time off from work to treat their PTSD that resulted from the workplace environment should work with an attorney who can make sure that they get the workers' compensation package that they both need and deserve.