By JAY McDONALD
President, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police
Posted Jan. 15, 2016
“I was in such bad shape that I had to go to a residential treatment facility and the command staff at the time refused to allow me to use sick time and fought me every step of the way. I was a mess and nobody cared.”
Jay McDonald is president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio and also serves as national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. He is a major with the Marion Police Department.The Philadelphia police officer who recently escaped a terrorist attack after being shot may well have scars beyond his physical wounds. The horror of being shot point blank by a terrorist could leave him with emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.
It’s happened before. Just as our soldiers fight the psychological effects of war when they return from the front lines, our emergency responders here at home regularly face similar horrors. Often, the result is PTSD.
Stories from people like James Niggemeyer, the Columbus police officer credited with saving lives in December 2004 when he answered a call and killed a crazed gunman who had killed four people at a nightclub. Niggemeyer is no longer a police officer, mainly because of the emotional toll of that night.
According to Niggemeyer, who’s been in counseling for the past 11 years, “the shooting changed my career path, not for the better. I’m happy to have been able to end the situation with no further tragedies after I arrived on the scene, but it certainly hasn’t made my life any better.”
Under current law, a police officer whose leg is broken carrying an injured child to safety can get workers’ compensation. If that same child dies a painful death in the officer’s arms and the officer isn’t injured, there’s no help for the officer. No treatment for the effects that would follow such a tragedy. No help for the crippling effects of the post-traumatic stress disorder. If someone breaks a leg on duty, it will be treated and all the medical costs will be covered by worker’s compensation. The break isn’t allowed to fester; the problem isn’t allowed to get worse. No one argues with a broken leg. Should a broken psyche be any less treatable? Both scenarios result in debilitation. In both situations, we owe it to the first responder to provide help.
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