Public Safety

Public safety officers represent a population of workers who often come to the attention of mental health practitioners. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders routinely are exposed to critical incidents on a singular or cumulative basis. 

As an early career physician I spent five years working emergency services at Highland Hospital in Oakland where paramedics, deputy sheriffs and police were tasked with bringing trauma victims. More than three decades ago I accepted the invitation of then Captain Mike Hebel to tour the San Francisco Police Academy. Following the events of 9/11, I met with N.Y. firefighters at a firehouse that lost eight colleagues. 

Whether first responders, long term employees or not, I believe doctors should humanely listen to and report the stories of persons with “mental injury” claims. We should be advocates for systems designed to protect workers while maintaining neutrality in complex human stories.

Leave a Comment