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Thread: FDNY's Trauma On Rise

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    FDNY's Trauma On Rise



    February 18, 2003 --

    One firefighter has become a "horror" who "lives on anti-depressants." Another wishes he could just retire. And another described himself as "on a roller coaster" of fear and alcohol abuse.

    These are just three of the thousands of city firefighters who, medical experts say, are increasingly angry, anxious and frightened some 17 months after the World Trade Center was destroyed.

    The pain can manifest itself in many ways - from feeling unsocial at a party to a full-blown case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts describe the firefighters' emotions as similar to soldiers in front-line combat.

    What they're going through is "very typical after this kind of trauma," said Dr. James Gordon, director of the Washington-based Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

    "The amount of loss was enormous," Gordon said, referring to the 343 city firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Firefighters don't normally talk about their torment. Many fear that showing what is seen as weakness will lose them the trust of their colleagues.

    But with the pain still so great, a few are willing to speak out - anonymously.

    One firefighter said he has undergone therapy and medication, but it hasn't helped.

    "I'm sometimes scared," he said. "I'm on a roller coaster that won't stop."

    He also said he's concerned about his co-workers' "massive consumption of alcohol."

    Another just wants out of his job.

    "I wish I can fall off the Fire Department map," he said, choking back tears. "I need to be with my family."

    The wife of another firefighter doesn't know how much longer her marriage can last. "He's a wreck. He's a horror to live with," she said.

    On 9/11, her husband arrived at the World Trade Center as the first tower fell. For days, the firefighter - now on medical leave - carried out his dead comrades and parts of their bodies.

    First came the nightmares. Then the depression and anger.

    "He lives on anti-depressants and sleeping pills," she said.

    Last month, Malachy Corrigan, director of the FDNY Counseling Services Unit, listed the primary diagnoses of the 3,800 firefighters, officers and EMS responders his office saw between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2002.

    The top five primary diagnoses were anxiety (roughly 1,400 cases); marital and couple problems (800); alcohol problems (400); depression (320); and post-traumatic stress disorder (230).

    "We know it's there, but we don't discuss it," said Lt. Kevin Guy, who retired in November because of asthma. "How could anybody not be affected by [9/11]?"

  2. #2
    Administrator Brian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    CT, USA
    and yet through it all, they all do their job, and the City doesn't give them the raises they deserve.

    All those pats on the back, and 'attaboys', and promises, promises, promises.

    Well, at least things are back to normal in the respect department. NY City always talks about support, but doesn't give.

    I guess that plan from last year about not forcing the Brothers to get 'debriefed' and counseled is, maybe, not a good idea? These guys suck it up, and will continue to, even to their own detriment.

    Take care of yourselves Brothers. Get the help, get the Zoloft and other anti-depressants. Talk about these drugs, and accept it as a tool to help get through this.

    Think of the counseling and drugs as your Scott Paks. Sure, you're a tough guy that doesn't need to wear a mask, but the damage is massive after a while. The same with the stress. Use the tools available to you. Protect yourself. Protect your future.
    Brian Shea
    Co-Director of Fallen Brothers Foundation
    (foundation charity dissolved 2006)

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2002
    This is just heartbreaking. Just goes to show that for the city officials at least, it's much easier (not to mention cheaper) to be sentimental about the dead heroes of 9/11, rather than spend money to help the living ones. Yes, by all means, honour those that died, and make sure they're never forgotten, but the ones that survived need all the help they can get.

    For God's sake, fellas, take whatever help is on offer. You went through experiences that no human being should ever have to go through. Of course it's going to leave a mark, and of course you're going to need help to get through it. So get it! No-one is going to think worse of you for it - or if they do, they aren't worth worrying about. Start thinking about yourselves for a change, not what other people might think about you.

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