The following may sound like hallmarks of a warzone: fires, casualties, damaged buildings and possibly deadly events around every corner. It’s not a warzone, however; it’s the scenes that first responders face on a frighteningly regular basis and it’s exactly why entities such as ProPublica are looking for those who’ve gone into harm’s way to speak about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Whether it’s called shell shock or combat fatigue, there has long been a recognized link between war and the symptoms we now call PTSD, such as reliving an event through flashbacks and nightmares,” a March 1, 2018 article from the nonprofit newsroom states. “That broad recognition often isn’t there for police officers and firefighters — even as more mass shootings bring the scenes of war to U.S. soil.”
To psychologist Natalie Barone, PTSD is an all-too-real reality for those who’ve returned home from warzones. She learned this through attending a number of October 2017 professional development courses focusing on PTSD, the basics of the condition, assessing those suffering from it and how medical professionals can better understand military culture. During the programs that Natalie Barone attended, she was made aware of stress that’s associated with being deployed to a combat zone, returning back to the civilian world afterward, screening measures for PTSD as well as subcultures that vets integrate themselves with.
The above risks that every soldier who has step foot on a warzone has faced is one reason why psychologist Natalie Barone is following the first responder updates. “Psychiatrists now recognize that continued exposure to so-called bad calls over the course of a career can have a stacking effect, leading to PTSD,” ProPublica states in its calls for responses from first responders. The news operation further states that studies of small groups of firefighters have found that “anywhere between 6.5 percent and 37 percent” of those groups have reported PTSD symptoms.
The lessons that Natalie Barone were exposed to during the military/PTSD educations programs were put on by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Defense. As noted above, this condition colloquially went by the term “shell-shock” for decades. Attitudes changed, says psychologist Natalie Barone, and we made efforts to better understand what our soldiers were enduring. That’s why she plans to closely follow the efforts being made to better asses what sights, risks and mental anguish our first responders are regularly exposed to as they tackle fires, shootings, floods and all types of other unexpected emergencies.