After decades of seeing unimaginable horrors every day at work, eventually the years of stress came to a boil for paramedic Tim Jobling.
‘‘One night I was sitting outside with my wife and she asked me what was wrong and I just broke down in tears and said I thought I was going mad,’’ he said.
Mr Jobling is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and he considers himself lucky that unlike many of his colleagues, he had been able to stay in his job.
Today, the Wonthaggi-based paramedic is heading on a ride across Victoria to raise awareness of the scourge of PTSD across the emergency services, and show that there is hope.
Tomorrow he will ride into Shepparton Ambulance Station to chat with our emergency workers about what is available for regional emergency workerswho could be dealing with mental health issues.
Mr Jobling said people had a perception of emergency workers as tough and unbreakable characters, and this added to the stigma of PTSD.
‘‘We are normal people with normal responses, but we are exposed to these abnormal things much more than the general public, and that takes its toll,’’ he said.
For him, before he realised he had PTSD he had trouble sleeping and would often have nightmares about what he had seen on the job.
Across the emergency services, the rate of suicide is much higher than the general population, and Mr Jobling said he had to bury a few of his mates over the years who took their own lives.
He said support services within Ambulance Victoria had improved in the last few years, but the fight was breaking down the stigma of PTSD that could stop someone from seeking treatment.
‘‘If we can help one person in this ride then its all worth it,’’ he said.
Mr Jobling and other emergency workers are departing Parliament House in Melbourne for The Breakthrough Ride today.
They will stop at Shepparton Ambulance Station at 102 Wyndham St tomorrow at noon for a chat, and the event is open for all emergency workers and their families.