First Responder Opens Up About PTSD on the Job

AmericanMedicalResponseLogo_Feb2011SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –When a first responder needs the help of another first responder in an emergency, Dave Pelletier says it makes things a little bit harder. “We still act as professionals. We’re trained to be that way. It does touch home because we’re all a team, police, fire and ems, when it’s all said and done, we reach out to the family, the individuals, the coworkers, and the other members of the protective services wishing them the best, and our thoughts and condolences, and we’ll band together with them and we’ll share the sorrow and their loss,” said Pelletier, General Manager of American Medical Response in Western MA.

Pelletier admits that’s been the case in his experience and for those EMTs who were on cottage street early Sunday morning. He says his paramedics arrived just minutes after Springfield firefighter Kenneth Murray crashed into a pole there. Murray died at Baystate Medical Center a short time later.

However, Pelletier recognizes that experiencing such events on a regular basis can take its toll. “It really is the team that shares the stress, from the dispatcher that takes the call, gives the crew out on the road the crew that actually responds and does the patient care, it’s stressful all around. We deal with difficult situations, people at their worst times, and where they’re most needy,”

What folks may not realize is that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is part of the job. Luckily, there are mechanisms in place to help fight it. “They can come back to our headquarters here on Cottage Street and spend some time or with our HR department we can also offer them critical stress management if there is a large enough event and we have enough folks that need debriefing. We also offer employee assistance program where they can confidentially contact this agency where they can seek help,” he stated.

All paramedics, EMTs and dispatchers are also trained to recognize if someone is becoming too stressed out, and a supervisor can also speak with that person.

A friend of firefighter Murray describes him as loving, kind, and somewhat shy. She says he’d joined the department in January 2011, and suffered  various injuries including burns, and a concussion, responding to the blast downtown Springfield in November.

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  • justmyopinion

    People don’t realize that we(first responders) take traumatic calls with us. Everyday we go to work we hope to be able to save a life and unfortunately we get let down a lot.

  • my3boys

    Its gotta be really hard dealing with that day after day I honor the emergency personal for putting there lives on the line and dealing with all the stress God bless and rip to all that have put there lives on the line

  • medic3

    That’s a hoot. That company doesn’t give one rats toucas about its employees and PTSD. I used to work there. Trust me

  • spfldmedic

    Rip Ken. Medic 3, I think your missing the point of this article. I don’t know if you worked at our division our not, but I have been at AMR Springfield since 07. I have seen many a traumatic incident and most of the time the ones that really need debriefing AMR provides it. I have been offered CISM or some form of debriefing on numerous occasions. This scenario here is about us loosing a friend and brother in the emergency service community. This article is explaining that what we do is hard and that it’s even harder to deal with it when it’s someone you work alongside with. Trust me. ~JH

  • spfldmedic

    Or not*

  • medic87

    The news of a fellow public safety worker dying is tragic, especially in a city that already brings so much heartache to its workers. As far as the article about the ” company ” caring for its employees, recognizing their stress level and offering help. That is a joke, in the 6 years as a full time employee there, mostly as a paramedic, never once was EAP or CISD ever offered to myself or fellow employees. When anyone would ask it was, ” we will get back to you.” As your waiting for them to get back to you, you find yourself drinking your life away and bringing the problems home. For the phone call that never came. The only thing the GM and supervisors ever cared about was filling shifts, and asking if for the 10th time this week if you and your partner would pull a double shift because they are short medics. O and by the way your not getting out tonight on time or able to call out sick. ( per operational need ) If you do your suspended without pay for 3 days.

  • medic87

    Yes, in the eyes of AMR, which is a profit driven, privately held company. Which makes them driven by the bottom line and not employee safety or well being. Just like every other big business.