Firefighting

UNDERSTANDING POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Issue 12 and Volume 159.

BY PAUL J. ANTONELLIS JR., FLOYD “SHAD” MESHAD, AND DABNEY STACK Hardly a day goes by in the firehouse that someone does not mention the word “stress.” Many trade journal articles and research projects have determined that firefighters are subjected to a higher rate of stress responses than the average person. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population ranges from seven percent to nine percent. Various research studies pertaining specifically to firefighters have cited PTSD rates for firefighters ranging from 16 percent to as high as 24 percent. As you can see, firefighters have a higher rate of PTSD than the general population. Therefore, it is well established that firefighters are impacted by critical incident stress. Many of the normal stress responses firefighters experience will diminish over time and will not require assistance. Some firefighters may develop acute stress disorder…

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