'I could feel my skin burning again' | Former firefighter opens up about his fight with PTSDKDSK News
Author: Casey Nolen
February 20, 2019
Firefighters and police officers are five times more likely to suffer from PTSD and more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.
"A broken arm, you can put a cast on it and it will heal. PTSD and what firefighters and police officers deal with, this is something they can struggle with the rest of their life," said Anthony Bass with SSM Health Treatment and Recovery who counsels first responders.
It was a snow covered January night in 2014 when Tim Kirchoff and his crew arrived at a burning house on Nancy Drive in St. Charles. The fire looked like it was mostly out, but it flared up while Kirchoff and three fellow firefighters were in the basement, trapping them.
"I got to the point that I curled up on the floor and basically told my wife and kids goodbye," Kirchoff said. He can remember the fire like it was yesterday. "I knew this is the way I was going to die."
Somehow all four trapped firefighters made it out alive. Several surgeries helped mend Kirchoff's injuries on the outside. But inside, he was only getting worse.
"I was having nightmares. I was reliving it. I could literally feel my skin burning again; I couldn't sleep," said Kirchoff of the months after the fire.
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