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Massachusetts firefighters’ union launches PTSD awareness campaign

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Whether it’s responding to car crashes or running into burning buildings, firefighters deal with life-and-death situations on a daily basis. But one Massachusetts firefighters union is launching a campaign to raise awareness about another threat to their safety: PTSD.”It hurts families, it hurts communities, it leads to all types of other unintended consequences,” said Lt. Jay Bailey, the Member Assistance Chairperson of Weymouth Firefighters Local IAFF 1616. Bailey says he’s on the phone every day with fellow first responders, talking about how the things they see and hear on the job are affecting their personal lives.”It’s a predictable outcome that when a young father feels a child go still in his hands that he’s trying to perform CPR on or a young mother, they’re going to have a reaction, they’re going to feel some kind of way,” Bailey saidOne study from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that approximately 20% of firefighters meet the criteria for PTSD at some point in their career, compared to 6.8% of the general population. “A lot of these guys think if they admit to having a mental health condition or PTSD that they could lose their job,” said Lt. Kevin McNiff, president of IAFF 1616.The union’s campaign is attempting to build support for two bills in the House and Senate that would protect first responders battling PTSD caused by on-the-job trauma. “By recognizing that PTSD is a hazard of this job and certifying it as a certified injury on the job, it protects members if they do have to retire,” said McNiff. Along with firefighters, the proposal would also apply to police officers and correctional officers. Hearings on the measures are scheduled for July 21 at the state house.

Whether it’s responding to car crashes or running into burning buildings, firefighters deal with life-and-death situations on a daily basis. But one Massachusetts firefighters union is launching a campaign to raise awareness about another threat to their safety: PTSD.

“It hurts families, it hurts communities, it leads to all types of other unintended consequences,” said Lt. Jay Bailey, the Member Assistance Chairperson of Weymouth Firefighters Local IAFF 1616.

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Bailey says he’s on the phone every day with fellow first responders, talking about how the things they see and hear on the job are affecting their personal lives.

“It’s a predictable outcome that when a young father feels a child go still in his hands that he’s trying to perform CPR on or a young mother, they’re going to have a reaction, they’re going to feel some kind of way,” Bailey said

One study from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that approximately 20% of firefighters meet the criteria for PTSD at some point in their career, compared to 6.8% of the general population.

“A lot of these guys think if they admit to having a mental health condition or PTSD that they could lose their job,” said Lt. Kevin McNiff, president of IAFF 1616.

The union’s campaign is attempting to build support for two bills in the House and Senate that would protect first responders battling PTSD caused by on-the-job trauma.

“By recognizing that PTSD is a hazard of this job and certifying it as a certified injury on the job, it protects members if they do have to retire,” said McNiff.

Along with firefighters, the proposal would also apply to police officers and correctional officers.

Hearings on the measures are scheduled for July 21 at the state house.

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