How do first responders cope with mass shootings?

Firefighters who respond to mass shootings sometimes develop PTSD

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firefighters who respond to mass shootings sometimes develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD from the destruction they see day to day.

Following the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, many are asking how first responders deal with the tragedy.

News4Jax spoke with Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, who said, oftentimes, first responders need help coping with mass shootings.

"The International Association of firefighters also has a national team that if it's a large-scale incident like what we saw down south. I know that team with International Association of firefighters was there within 24 hours," Wyse said. "There's a pretty good team in the Orlando area that was developed after the Pulse shooting. So all across the country, the firefighters have teams set up that can move in and deal with these types of incidents."

Many years ago, it became obvious that firefighters and police officers are susceptible to PTSD due to the nature of their jobs.

Wyse said because of this, it wasn't hard to get people in place to put a support team together.

Right now, there's legislation in Tallahassee calling for PTSD to be covered under workman's comp. It's legislation Wyse supports.

"Firefighters and police officers deal with it differently. Some have a better support network than others as it relates to family or friends," Wyse said. "So that's why we think we ought to have a robust critical intent management team to come in these types of situations to help the firefighters and police officers."

Wyse said there are high rates of suicide, divorce and alcoholism in comparison to the normal population, more of the reason he supports the legislation.