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PTSD for Medical and First Responders

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member


Well obviously this my situation.

I was hoping to find others here that might have a similar background to chat with, it can be so hard to talk about this stuff with non-med people (and I mean no disrespect, it's just often graffic or upsetting to others).

Im a 40 year old female that has spent the last 10years in the State Trauma Hospital as an Anaesthetic Technician. My PTSD was brought about after years of exposure to shocking traumas, deaths, and no support from management.

I would love to hear from anyone that has a similar story, or just wants to chat.

Cheers ✌️


274 Replies 274

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Gas tech, welcome to the BB forum, and I have read your other post with all the information that our manager Chris has supplied for you, so firstly I hope that some of these have been helpful for you.

PTSD and all the trauma that you had to encounter must have been appalling to see, and to try and cope with it all is never an easy feat, and that's why you have posted under PTSD.

I'm sure that there will be many people who have also encountered this illness because of certain circumstances, either medical, part medical or because of other situations.

Myself I suffer from PTSD although that's what my psychologist tells me because of an injury that left me with a blood clot on the brain back in '83 and then a severe vehicle accident in '97.

The sights from badly injured, burnt or loss of limb people is certainly not what I would like to see everyday like you had to view, sure you may get used to it and take it as 'second nature', but there can be a point where it becomes far too much and have to leave your job due to having a breakdown.

I'm sure that this is quite common not only for young nurses but also for doctors and this must have happened to you, so are you getting any help for this, and I'm also not sure whether you are still working. L Geoff. x

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Gas tech,

Cute avatar!

I am a 51 yo retired NSW Police Sergeant and spent most of my thirty years on the streets of south west Sydney as a first responder. I have lost count of dead and injured people I have met, but it would be well over a thousand. Car crashes, shootings, stabbings, beatings, industrial incidents, child abuse, suicide by train and others.

I'm happy to chat if you want. I have often wondered how paramedics and trauma personnel manage the injuries of people brought in from the roadside environment. I mean, it isn't like planned surgery where the patient doesn't eat for eight hours before, or drink alcohol, or take unknown medications. You guys have people that may be drunk, may have a just eaten a pizza and popped some party drug of unknown chemical composition, be combative and so on.

In the police, and in my day, management were not really good at providing support to staff and there was a heavy drinking culture (self medicating). Things are a bit better now, but too late for me.

Tell me about your situation if you'd like. I know relating to, or even burdening loved ones, is often difficult.

Kind regards, John.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Geoff and John,

Wow, I hope you both realise how glad I am to hear from you! 

Ive been searching for PTSD specific related groups or forums for moths and only seem to come up ones in the States. Who knew it was right under my nose?

A few quick answers, no I'm not working at the moment (which actually makes me feel worse!) and yes I've been seeing a psychologist for two years (started for other work and life issues) and I have the best GP on the planet.

Thats not including my AMAZING husband of 20 years,our 18 year old son and my father, who I really don't know what I'd do without!!!

Im 5 months in from diagnosis, but 2 years from the one incident that haunts me the most. 

Ive seen collegues commit suicide, the most recent only 2 months ago. There is absolutely NO support from managers or the hospital itself, even though they like to say there is. The doctors get debriefing after every death (for coroner reports I guess) but the rest of us usually debrief over a bottle of anything. 

Alcohol and drugs are rife in hospitals as coping skills, there is always someone that can set you up with something. Theatre, ED and ICU are the worst hit wards to work in for PTSD, so much death and sadness.

Me, I turned to ordering medication online, surprising how easy that is! That and alcohol were my crutch (I was always too scared to do anything heavy, I saw all of that in my patients). 

Obviously there were many events over many years that got me to this point, like you John, I used to always think about you guys and the paramedics. 

I'll write more as I go, nearly out of space, but I really need you both to know how grateful I am that you responded to me.

Thank you so much 😘

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi John,

First I thought I'd introduce myself properly, my name is Donna.

Ive been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about your post, wondering if you also suffer from PTSD?

One of my uncles, now retired also, spent the same sort of time, 30 odd years with the WA police working himself up to a very senior position here before having a 'breakdown' as we were told. I look back now and I think that he also suffered PTSD. No one really sees him anymore, as he avoids all family functions etc, which is exactly what I have been doing for some time now.

My dad used to work in the radio control room for the buses, I remember one night when I was 16, he was finishing a late shift when a call came in that someone had jumped in front of a train, so buses were needed to divert passengers. As he was on his way home, he said he would stop at the scene and let radio know. 

When he got there, the young man under the train was my brothers best friend. This kid, 18 years old, had basically grown up with us. Dad told my brother that he had died instantly, but he told me years later that he was alive, and screaming in agony. He recognised my dad obviously, and died in his arms. I know he has never bee the same since.

A year and a half ago I was notified of my nephews best friend, my son new him well also, that he had been riding a dirt bike on the road and was hit by a four wheel drive. All our boys at that time were 16! The next morning when I arrived at work I was devastated to find our young friend on my theatre list. I begged and pleaded with my seniors and then my manager to please not make me work on him, I knew he was touch and go.They refused to reallocate me, despite it being a breach of policy, so I spent the day crying while I worked with a very sympathetic anaesthetist. 

The young boy did survive, but he had massive head injuries, C1 and C5 fractures and is now a ventilated quadriplegic for life.One of hundreds of devastating, to close to home stories that quite obviously led me to where I am.

The saddest part is that my department had the most loyal and dedicated technician ever and they not only ruined me by providing absolutely no support, but they've also robbed the patients of someone that ACTUALLY cared and loved their job.

Thank you for reading my rambles, different things just come at anytime they want. 

I hope to hear from you again soon,Donna ✌️

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Donna,

Thank you for your post.

Yes, I have P.T.S.D. I have seen a lot of yukky things.I have been threatened or exposed to serious harm many times. I have been very close to being killed on a handful of occasions. I understand why your dad is like he is. I don't like being around people much, either.

I also understand why you feel that management has mis-managed you. It is very common. I like to think management get it right abut 97% of the time, and then there are people like us. In the police it is sometimes said that the people calling the shots are't the ones getting shot at, and it is true. The pressure on managers to meet targets and their constant eye on self preservation ensures that short term goals are met without regard for long term consequences.

For example, in the police in N.S.W., there are supposed to be "minimum staffing agreements" where a certain number of police are considered the minimum for a station to run. In theory, it means that police can be shuffled from another class of duty to meet the "First Response" needs or overtime can be authorised. In practice, management consistently roster a skeleton crew and then when sick leave depletes it, which is inevitable based on historical rostering figures, the shift just runs short. Specialist resent and resist being forced to do front line work and managers are too terrified to authorise overtime. This has been going on for years and is allowed to go on at every level of management. I mean, "Who cares?" The only impact is on the long suffering public and no one answers to them. I really do not know how managers assuage their collective conscience knowing they are serving budgetary needs at the expense of the community.

Anyway, that is just one example. I am sure you've seen similar. What sort of treatment are you getting?

Kind regards, John.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi John,

Sorry for the delay in this response. Life has a way of interrupting at times! 

I do completly agree with the thought that management do try their best (for the most part), and that it is unfortunate that the occasional person like you and I do get missed and fall through the cracks.

To be fair, which is actually quite a breakthrough for me when it comes to my management, although I do believe they should have done something (as my behaviour was extremely erratic and very out of character for me, therefore very obvious to all of my collegues and two of my seniors who all still chose to do nothing!), I also didn't make it very easy AT ALL for any of them to approach me.

I have been struggling with certain areas of the job for a few years, but two years ago was when I knew I needed help.

I GP put me on anti depressants, but she told me she was doing for the anxiety side, that she didn't think I was depressed as a primary (I've been seeing her for 18years and she is an amazing GP!). I also started to see a clinical psychologist, who again I have been extremely lucky to have connected with instantly.

As for everyone, there is always so much more to a story. Shortly after this, I was off sick with pneumonia (very slow recovery) and then two months later my brother is arrested for suspicion of murder.

Im sure you can imagine how the last two years have been since then? We are only now about to go to trial in a couple of months as he's pleading not guilty.

Even though all of this was apparently 'confidential', this is when the workplace bullying started, from my manager of all people!

I did finally resign, for the sanity of myself and my husband and son (much to my disgust that he got away with it), but I can honesty say it WAS the best decision I have made. 

I still see both my psychologist and GP on pretty much fortnightly basis, still on anti depressants, something for anxiety during the day and if I need it, to help sleep at night. 

I have just found a program run by a private hospital here, that does a two week day patient (hopefully out patient) program on PTSD and they have have specifically for emergency services personnel. I'm going to look into that today. We've been told the whole cost, no insurance is about $5,500, but we have insurance so I'll see what the situation is. I may be lucky!!!!

Thank you for being so kind and patient, it really helps.

I'll keep you posted on that program.

Talk soon, Donna 


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Donna,

Good to hear from you.

Bullying is an insidious act and somehow the system makes the person complaining seem like the problem. 

Of course, it is done now and the only way forward is, well, forward!

I look forward to hearing from you about the program.

Kind regards, John.

Community Member

Hi guys,

You all have such amazing histories and years of experience, its a bit intimidating to even post! But I'm a paramedic student; I am yet to 'officially' operate in the field but through the years of clinical placements and volunteering, I have already seen quite a bit.

I have so much respect for all of you; your years of service, managing jobs/cases society don't think even happen and coping with all of these work-related demands in addition to your personal lives. Hats off to you.

For a bit of a background, I'm in my early 20's and recently had a lot of self-realizations about who I am now, the demands of the (hopeful futuristic) job and how I can set myself up for the healthiest future possible. With brilliant support (GP, psychologist) I am acting to reduce my current 'problems' and trying to build the best foundations for my future. I am continually learning the importance of assertiveness, positive coping-stratergies and emotional intelligence. Although people associate a lot of downfalls about mental illness and emergency services, I think it has only ever made me more empathetic, mature and motivated.

I often think about if I'm cut out for this, but I can't think of anything I'd love to do more. I don't know if anyone is every really sure if what their doing is right, and if they are over-confidence (in my opinion) isn't always the greatest trait in this field. I may be young and naive but for a long time this is what I've wanted to do. If I change my career path later than that's okay but I think I'd kick myself forever if I walked away because of the 'what if's'.

I appreciate any of you words, wisdom or opinions.

Kind regards,


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Leia, hi and welcome to the site.

Firstly can I just say to Donna that I'm so sorry I haven't followed up on her previous posts, but I tend to get caught up replying to other posts that have just been posted.

Leia it may take people quite awhile to eventually decide to post, it's not easy to do your very first comment, scared of what reaction you will get, worried that people will knock you, but not on this site, it's an open house where only advice, suggestions and experience will be given to you as best as we can do.

You sound to be a very mature person and have a very sensible attitude and approach for your situation,so that's good to even start with.

Everybody has doubts about what they are doing and wonder how can they do to achieve a better result, it's in our body, so an analogy would be, they climb a mountain so then they want to climb a bigger mountain next.

At the moment you have no desire to change, so you want, but we don't know what will happen in the future, but you can produce the confidence you seem to have, then your ability will just fall into place.

Hope to hear back from you. L Geoff. x