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Workers' compensation: Stress causes PTSD in first responders

According to a recently published article, the work environments of first responders nationwide, including California, put them at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Sleep deprivation, fatigue, low nutrition and trauma are par for the course for emergency services workers, leading to many workers' compensation claims. The buildup occurs because many first responders do not talk about the trauma at work, nor do they seek help. Instead, many let off steam when they get home, which might cause family problems.

Emergency medical workers, police officers and firefighters have to deal with destruction and death every day. They hear and see things that would be too much for most individuals, and they never know what the next call might bring. During one shift they deal with the worst moments in the lives of others. They could come across a decapitated body on one call and find a dead infant on the next call. And then, when they expect the worst, the next call might be an addict faking pain to get medication.

Safety authorities are concerned about the number of suicides among first responders, and critical incident stress debriefings are offered to help workers to put their trauma in context rather than suppressing it. These meetings should occur within 72 hours after a traumatic experience. Regardless, the suicide rate of these workers continues to exceed all other occupations by far.

PTSD is recognized as an occupational disease, and as such, it is covered by the California workers' compensation insurance system. Dealing with the legal and administrative proceedings might be challenging, but this is where the skills of an experienced attorney can be invaluable. A lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance and work to pursue recovery of maximum benefits.

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