First responders, tow truck drivers speak out about PTSD


(Photo source: Flickr user Nathan Rupert)

Collision sites can take a toll on emergency responders. (Photo source: Flickr user Nathan Rupert)

Whitbourne, Newfoundland and Labrador — August 17, 2015 – Recent efforts to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its impact on first responders have tow operators feeling a little left out.

Much like police officers and EMS, tow truck drivers are often first on the scene of traumatic accidents, and are frequently exposed to gruesome and stressful situations. Tow operators, however, do not receive specialized training or support to anticipate and handle such events.

J&W Power Towing’s Edgar Power told VOCM Newfoundland Radio he’s witnessed countless tragedies throughout his 38-year career, and without much of a support system, outside of family.

“You do see some things, but it’s not easy. It’s hard,” the Whitbourne, NL resident says, adding that good Samaritans who stop to help out are also deeply affected.

Powers says that while dealing with serious accidents can be complicated, preventing them is fairly simple—people just need to slow down.

“I know there’s mistakes that everybody makes, but if everybody slowed down and drove the way they’re supposed to drive, there wouldn’t be half of this stuff [happening].”

Aiming to help emergency workers and their family members recognize and identify the symptoms and stages of PTSD, the wife of an RCMP officer released a YouTube video  late last month. The video, “You Are Not Alone” Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness, features current and former officers sharing their experiences with the condition.

The Tema Conter Memorial Trust (TEMA) estimates that over 50 emergency workers across Canada are suffering from PTSD.

To watch “You Are Not Alone” Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness, please visit youtube.com/watch?v=Y-JJR87GRHo.

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