More firefighters are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to service cuts and increased pressures of the job.
"Having to respond to medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests is affecting workers’ mental health", says delegate.
London delegate Steve White told the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference yesterday that firefighters having to respond to medical emergencies such as cardiac arrests - which is on the increase - is affecting workers’ mental health, adding that responding to traumatic health-related incidents, which used to be rare, is now a daily occurrence. “Some brigades are going to more cardiac arrest calls than ambulance crews,” he said. “Some of them are dealing with victims of violent crime.”
Mr White said the union raised concerns with management over the mental health implications, but they did not agree. “It gives me no pleasure to report to you that they were wrong, with more members suffering PTSD. “We must be able to ensure our employers are reducing mental health and traumatic incidents as much as possible.”
Surrey brigade’s Asif Aziz said his region was one of the first to trial emergency medical response (EMR). He said: “There has been an undeniable increase in members suffering rising mental health problems either in the control room or on the ground.”
Delegates also heard how cuts and staff shortages are piling pressure on firefighters. Durham organiser Holly Ferguson said: “Firefighters were particularly at risk of stress.”
Conference instructed the union to produce a guide for officials to improve support for firefighters responding to medical emergencies.