Ferrara isn't alone in his experience — other rescuers and first responders have had to cope with their own post-traumatic stress. Hampton Sides, a writer for Outside magazine, covered Ferrara's case and other cases of civilian PTSD in the January issue of the magazine.A good thing to come out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an improvement in the treatment for people who suffer PTSD. As a former police officer who is a PTSD survivor I have experienced first hand what PTSD can do. I hope that stories like this NPR piece and the upcoming one on which it's based in Outside magazine will start a dialog on just how much PTSD affects law enforcement officers and other first responders.
"It's only recently become apparent that PTSD is rampant among the community of first responders," Sides says. "I think that the last community that has come to recognize this has been these mountain communities — these people who essentially get to do what they love to do, and yet they come across this trauma. They see these horrible things — often people that they know."
Sides says that part of the reason for the lack of diagnosis of PTSD is the culture of the responders themselves. "There's the kind of 'he-man' quality to this," he says. "These guys don't like to recognize when they're hurting."
The Veteran's Administration has some good resources for those with PTSD and is a good place to start.