February 18, 2003 --
One firefighter has become a "horror" who "lives on anti-depressants." Another wishes he could just retire. And another described himself as "on a roller coaster" of fear and alcohol abuse.
These are just three of the thousands of city firefighters who, medical experts say, are increasingly angry, anxious and frightened some 17 months after the World Trade Center was destroyed.
The pain can manifest itself in many ways - from feeling unsocial at a party to a full-blown case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts describe the firefighters' emotions as similar to soldiers in front-line combat.
What they're going through is "very typical after this kind of trauma," said Dr. James Gordon, director of the Washington-based Center for Mind-Body Medicine.
"The amount of loss was enormous," Gordon said, referring to the 343 city firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
Firefighters don't normally talk about their torment. Many fear that showing what is seen as weakness will lose them the trust of their colleagues.
But with the pain still so great, a few are willing to speak out - anonymously.
One firefighter said he has undergone therapy and medication, but it hasn't helped.
"I'm sometimes scared," he said. "I'm on a roller coaster that won't stop."
He also said he's concerned about his co-workers' "massive consumption of alcohol."
Another just wants out of his job.
"I wish I can fall off the Fire Department map," he said, choking back tears. "I need to be with my family."
The wife of another firefighter doesn't know how much longer her marriage can last. "He's a wreck. He's a horror to live with," she said.
On 9/11, her husband arrived at the World Trade Center as the first tower fell. For days, the firefighter - now on medical leave - carried out his dead comrades and parts of their bodies.
First came the nightmares. Then the depression and anger.
"He lives on anti-depressants and sleeping pills," she said.
Last month, Malachy Corrigan, director of the FDNY Counseling Services Unit, listed the primary diagnoses of the 3,800 firefighters, officers and EMS responders his office saw between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2002.
The top five primary diagnoses were anxiety (roughly 1,400 cases); marital and couple problems (800); alcohol problems (400); depression (320); and post-traumatic stress disorder (230).
"We know it's there, but we don't discuss it," said Lt. Kevin Guy, who retired in November because of asthma. "How could anybody not be affected by [9/11]?"
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02-19-2003, 11:13 AM #1
FDNY'S TRAUMA ON RISE after 9-11-01ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
LT. John Ginley Engine 40
FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40
"If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
02-19-2003, 12:16 PM #2
Ray, I will say some prayers for your brothers. I don't know what to say, words fail me right now.To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.
GO WHITE SOX!!!!!
02-19-2003, 12:32 PM #3
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your FDNY brothers, Ray. You know how I feel. Check your email.September 11th - Never Forget
I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.
IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
RAY WAS HERE FIRST
02-20-2003, 02:22 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
- Washington State
This breaks my heart
I read this earlier today and I had it on my mind since. I wish there was something I could do to help. One thing I can do however, is pray. I will pray that God will comfort you and your brothers and heal your hearts.
Take care, OK?
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