Health and Safety

Md. Treatment Center for Paramedics

September 18, 2016 
By Tara Jessup, LaborPress USA

Washington, DC – Fire fighters and paramedics suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other occupational stress-related conditions will soon have a highly specialized behavioral health treatment facility.

The first-of-its-kind residential treatment center, developed through the collaboration of Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), a leader in behavioral healthcare management, and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), is expected to open in January 2017 in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. The facility will exclusively serve the 302,000 people represented by the IAFF — who work on the frontlines of emergency response throughout the United States and Canada.

Recent studies show that responding to traumatic, often graphic, emergencies – from pulling a child from a mangled automobile, to a house fire with multiple victims, to a massive terror attack – have an impact on fire fighters and paramedics. These experiences are causing PTSD at rates similar to those found in combat veterans.

"Working on the frontlines of emergency response can be a stressful and challenging job. The men and women we represent are often exposed to life-threatening situations, lack of sleep, and gruesome experiences," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "As a result, it is estimated that 20 percent of fire fighters have struggled with PTSD, and fire fighters and paramedics experience PTSD at twice the rate of the general population. People with PTSD also often develop co-occurring clinical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse."

"Working on the frontlines of emergency response can be a stressful and challenging job. The men and women we represent are often exposed to life-threatening situations, lack of sleep, and gruesome experiences," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "As a result, it is estimated that 20 percent of fire fighters have struggled with PTSD, and fire fighters and paramedics experience PTSD at twice the rate of the general population. People with PTSD also often develop co-occurring clinical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse."

With the help of ARS, the Center of Excellence will be staffed by a highly experienced and specialized team, including behavioral health professionals who understand the fire service culture and the complex needs of fire fighters and paramedics seeking recovery from PTSD and co-occurring addictions.

"We know that fire fighters and paramedics can be exposed to significant trauma in the line of duty, which can lead to PTSD and co-occurring conditions," said Lewis Gold, MD, Chairman of Advanced Recovery Systems. "With our expertise in addiction and recovery and comprehensive approach to care, ARS will be able to fully recognize and meet the needs of IAFF members, and help them get back to the lives and jobs they love."

September 17, 2016

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