Emergency service workers are regularly exposed to potentially traumatic experiences as a result of their work. Treatment guidelines now exist which focus on the unique challenges of treating PTSD amongst emergency workers.
The Expert Guidelines: Diagnosis and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Service Workers build on the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder developed by Phoenix Australia and approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The PTSD guidelines for emergency workers offer complementary, focussed guidance on the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD in emergency service workers. They were developed by the University of New South Wales and Black Dog Institute, in collaboration with Australia’s leading experts in PTSD, including Phoenix Australia’s Director, Professor David Forbes.
Emergency services are organisations that ensure public health and safety by responding to, and preventing, various emergency situations. Within Australia there are three main emergency services: police, fire and rescue, and ambulance, with a range of additional voluntary emergency organisations including State Emergency Services (SES), coast guard, rural fire service and life savers. Workers within each of these organisations will be exposed to potentially traumatic events as part of their daily work or volunteer activities. While in most cases an individual will recover quickly using their own coping strategies and with the support of family and friends, some will go on to develop a mental health problem.