Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 35(1), January-February 2018, 114-119


Post-traumatic stress disorder in firefighters and ambulance personnel after mass casualty incidents

F. Katsavouni , E. Bebetsos
Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece

The professionals who are first responders at emergencies involving danger to human life may be greatly affected psychologically. One of the psychological consequences of mass casualty incidents (MCI) is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the rescuers. This is a review of reports of PTSD symptoms in professional firefighters and ambulance personnel. PTSD is a stress disorder which presents as a result of an emotional traumatic event and studies show that 14–34% of firefighters and ambulance personnel meet the criteria for PTSD. The tests most widely used to research traumatic event exposure and PTSD symptoms are clinically administered interviews and self-reported questionnaires, including the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), the DSM-IV-PTSD, the PCL and the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R). The exposure to hundreds of dead people, injured people and in particular injured children, the smell of the dead and the destroyed areas are all traumatic incidents which have been reported to cause psychological disorder and PTSD symptoms in the professional rescuers involved. The influence of "internal" and "external" stress factors has been shown to be significant. The emotions and reactions reported by study participants are stress, anger, depression, grief and pressure. The timely recognition and management of PTSD symptoms is necessary to the continued well-being of emergency personnel.

Key words: Ambulance personnel, Firefighters, Mass casualty incidents (MCI), PTSD.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine