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Emergency medical technicians and paramedics go into work each day knowing that they might see horrible sights on their shift. Despite this fact, they show up for work and do the best they can in some pretty traumatizing situations. Without these individuals, many people likely wouldn’t survive accidents or other devastating events.
But, what happens when an EMT or paramedics begin to suffer emotionally from doing their job duties? This is a question that is vitally important because if these individuals aren’t in the position to care for themselves, they won’t be able to adequately care for others.
Emergency responders are often seen as being tough. Many people think that these everyday heroes aren’t impacted too much by the things they see. To some extent, there is a disconnect there. Most EMTs and medics are trained to look over the situations they see and focus on the patient. This, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t impacted by what they see. They just can’t show it at the scene of accident.
During training, EMTs are told to get help if they need it. They are reminded about some of the possible avenues where they can turn for mental health help if they are having trouble coping with what they’ve seen. Some people don’t take advantage of the help that is offered. This can be for a variety of reasons, but one of the common reasons is that they feel like they are giving up control or that they don’t want to let the flood of emotions out that have been bottled up.
The mental impacts of this line of work shouldn’t be ignored, however, it often is. Seeing gruesome scenes and injuries can lead to serious mental conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder. These conditions can lead to depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety and a host of other issues that require professional mental health help to overcome. In some cases, the effects of the horrors that these emergency responders see can lead to their being unable to continue on in the profession.
Medics who need to seek mental health help and those who are unable to continue working should consider filing for workers’ compensation coverage. California law does state that psychological injuries are covered by workers’ compensation as long as the issue was the result of on-the-job conditions, which is likely the case for emergency responders.