Firefighters and police officers are the most crucial first responders. They are the people we turn to when severe calamities occur and when we need them to save us from life-threatening situations. We rely on them to get us out of these circumstances, and in doing so, they put their own bodies at risk. They develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from emotional exhaustion.
We usually experience these catastrophic events once in our lifetime, but they are in the face of death and danger every single day they are on the job. What is so heartbreaking is that more firefighters and police officers die because of suicide than when they are on assignment.
Worker’s compensation for mental illness
According to California law, worker’s compensation may be awarded specifically to firefighters and police officers when mental conditions develop while the person is in the service of their unit or department. The state enacted this specific legislature because of the following reasons:
- Firefighting and law enforcement are two of the most stressful occupations in the nation.
- Firefighters and police officers are forced to make life-and-death decisions on any given day they are on duty.
- Firefighters and police officers are exceptionally more prone to the emotional and behavioral effects of their job because of constant exposure to horrifying events.
- They are constantly at risk of physical assault and injury.
- They endure constant cumulative exposure to transmissible diseases and carcinogens.
- Firefighters and police officers witness death and trauma more than any other occupation.
They are heroes, forced to have courage in times of calamity. If you know a firefighter or police officer showing symptoms of PTSD, you can advise them to file for worker’s compensation and get free psychological assessment and treatment.
Stop the stigma against mental illness
The more we make ourselves aware of the realities these first responders endure, the more we can understand the significance their occupation has on their mental health. We should treat mental illness just as we do any serious physical injury from such a hazardous occupation.