Job can take a toll

December 02, 2016

Paramedics Bill Dettmre and Bill Briggs came to chat to emergency workers about the seriousness of PTSD.

They might be seen in the community as everyday heroes, but for paramedics and other emergency workers the stresses of the job can take their toll.

On Wednesday a group of emergency workers stopped in to Shepparton to chat with paramedics about the dangers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The chat was part of the Breakthrough Ride, a motorcycle tour by a group of emergency service workers that is currently travelling through Victoria.

Former paramedic Bill Dettmer is part of the ride and worked in an ambulance for 15 years before he had to stop because of PTSD.

‘‘I’ve been struggling with it ever since,’’ Mr Dettmer said.

‘‘I got help and then I went to study it and get a bit of an understanding.

‘‘Now I use those resources to teach other people (about PTSD).’’

He had to say goodbye to his career as a paramedic, but he was thankful his illness was treated before it was too late.

‘‘I miss it every day. I would love to be back in that uniform because being an ambulance worker is a job like no other,’’ he said.

Friend Bill Briggs, who has been a paramedic for 27 years, said it was common for PTSD to hit emergency workers.

‘‘Although I haven’t been diagnosed, I have experienced the surface triggers,’’ Mr Briggs said.

‘‘In the old days it was just harden up and work it through, and that doesn’t work — it just accumulates.’’

Breakthrough Ride organiser Tim Jobling said the ride had been a big success and he was looking to do it again next year.

The ride ends in Melbourne today.

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