Following on from my earlier post on the correlation between PTSD and alcohol consumption (or not as the case may be), I came across a post entitled – “Why Don’t more Firefighters have PTSD?” courtesy of Station Pride in the USA.
I found it interesting due to the simple fact; you would naturally expect that levels of PTSD should also have some correlation with the type of work being performed by sufferers.
It should also be safe to assume that; the greater the levels and degrees of trauma experienced/witnessed that any occupation is exposed to, the higher the probability of workers being susceptible to PTSD.
(USA statistics) …The most consistent, predicted number out there says that about 37% of firefighters show signs or symptoms of PTSD… (Station Pride)
Making a simplistic (but unscientific) assumption; all firefighters deal with the same traumatic incidents, so why do only 37% of the profession fall foul of PTSD? To follow on from this, it should also be safe to assume that all emergency services personnel will, by necessity of their work, have greater exposure to trauma than ‘ordinary’ members of the public. And last but by no means least; our military serving in war zones (and areas of disaster relief) will experience more trauma than those who remain at home.
Something worthy of note, but not often included in examinations of this topic (that I’ve seen) is; what levels of Post Incident Psychological Debriefing/Counselling was available for the workers after being exposed to trauma? Indeed, if it was actually available at the time, how many chose to accept it? It should also be noted however; this type of psychological support is also something of a latter-day phenomenon in the workplace.
But in real terms, there has always been a level of post-incident (less formal) psychological self-support available within the military and emergency services. It’s something I have alluded to in the past (here) and something referred to in the firefighter’s post – the ‘work family’ chew stuff about and get things off their chest. But then again, only of possible use to those who chose to discusses their feelings and observations
If you were to experience an incident and then immediately return home to your family, it would make it harder to process it fully and effectively because they didn’t live the incident with you… (Station Pride)
I said “possible” benefit because, then like now, not all people want (or feel the need) to talk through their feelings or experiences, irrespective of the perceived/promoted advantages by their employers.
Again I’m left with a few more questions than answers… Why do some military/emergency services personnel suffer from PTSD when others don’t? Could it be that some ‘hide’ their PTSD better than others (but still suffer)…for reasons of pride/machismo?
Bearing in mind the above professions also (traditionally) have a heavier than ‘normal’ propensity for engagement in a ‘drinking culture’ attached to their work; does the prevalence (or lack of) PTSD have any connection with their personal drinking?
(To be continued)