Firefighter watches water-dropping plane 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
New Ben-Gurion University research on post-traumatic stress disorder in
firefighters found that nine out of 10 showed symptoms of full or partial
The study was not connected with the deaths of 44 in December
2010’s Mount Carmel forest disaster.
Among the physical symptoms of
traumatic stress are lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, headaches and pain,
the individual’s lack of interest in what previously interested him and
For the first time, BGU said on Wednesday, Dr. Marc Lougassi
– a firefighter himself as well as a doctoral student in the university’s
Faculty of Health Sciences – studied the prevalence of PTSD among the
professionals and how they cope. Three hundred firefighters participated in the
“It is important to note that as far as Israeli firefighters are
concerned there has been no documented evidence of PTSD prevalence, despite the
fact that they are exposed to additional traumas such as war and terror strikes
that add to the traumas they experience in the course of their daily shifts,”
Twenty-four percent of the operational firefighters
suffered from full PTSD, 67% showed partial PTSD and 9% showed no signs of any
traumatic symptoms. But only 5% of the flight firefighters in the Ben-Gurion
Airport Firefighting Services had PTSD, and 50% of them showed no full or
partial PTSD symptoms.
The representative sample of firefighters excluded
those who had undergone psychological or psychiatric treatment, suffered head
injuries or had chronic diseases that required prescription drugs on a regular
basis. Included were firefighters who had been exposed to traumatic events since
1997. An additional 42 Ben-Gurion Airport firefighters served as a control
“The results support the hypothesis that increased exposure to
recurring traumatizing events is a significant factor contributing to PTSD
development,” Lougassi said.