Major Incidents, News

First Responders Suffering from PTSD

A new report highlights some of the struggles first responders go through after responding to incidents like the Sandy Hook massacre. (Photo Ct. Dept. of Emergency Services and Public Protection)

A Connecticut state trooper profiled recently in the Washington Post says he still struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

PTSD is a problem for first responders and EMS personnel who respond to mass-casualty events, according to JEMS author Cynthia Kincaid.

Ken Dillon, who also served as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician and paramedic during his 30-year career, says certain smells can trigger him.

That even includes pizza.

“When everything happened, big trays of pizza were left out on the counter in the cafeteria,” Dillon recently told the newspaper. “Over the next week while we processed the scene it began to rot and smell really bad, and it blended with the other unfortunate smells, like blood just down the hallway — the smell of evil. After that, anytime I’d smell pizza, it would take me back to that time.”

Dillon said he began drinking heavily and was later arrested for driving while intoxicated. He and his wife also divorced, according to the report.

That’s when Dillon said he knew he needed help.

Are you suffering from PTSD? These resources may help

Toward a Better Understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Psychological Trauma: The Silent Stalker

Practitioner Mental Wellbeing: Can We Be More Proactive?

National Institute of Mental Health