Study: mental, physical health problems impacting first responders

Study: mental, physical health problems impacting first responders

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - PTSD and cancer diagnoses are growing among firefighters across the country.

"We're taking it serious and we're trying to learn as much as we can," Assistant Fire Chief for the Wichita Falls Fire Department, Donald Hughes said.

On Tuesday, the International Association of Fire Fighters will release a report that shows how first responders are impacted by their duties.

"The most troubling piece of evidence is that an alarming number of firefighters have contemplated suicide," press secretary for the IAFF, Timothy Burn said.

Hughes said calls, especially ones that involve children, can stick with first responders.

"They compound (it) and over your career it just builds up on you and that's where the guys start having trouble," he said.

PTSD is not the only danger firefighters are facing.

"Firefighters are exposed to a lot of carcinogenic chemicals and substances like soot, benzene, formaldehyde," Dr. Praveen Reddy, M.D. said.

The exposure can lead to the development of cancers like testicular, nonhodgkins lymphoma, prostate, lung and multiple myeloma cancers.

"Most of where they get this exposure is either by inhalation of all these toxic fumes or when they touch or contact with these chemicals," Dr. Reddy said. "Those will absorb through the skin."

IAFF officials said the goal of releasing this report is to get first responders the help they need.

"Firefighters need the support of the community and they need these protocols and they need these presumption laws," Burn said. 
The report will be released Tuesday, August 16th and the International Association of Fire Fighters Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Samantha Forester, Newschannel 6

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