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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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