dealing with dying people and grieving survivors, and last but not least greatresponsibility for lives of survivors.Most rescuers experience normal stress reactions to such strains for several days orweeks, which may include emotional reactions of fear, guilt, grief, anger, irritation,helplessness, feeling numb or having diminishe
interests and pleasure; cognitivereactions of confusion, disorientation, shortened attention span, and difficultyconcentrating; physical reactions of fatigue, tension, insomnia, edginess, and beingeasily startled or becoming overly alert.But those rescuers – police and fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, andphysicians – who may find themselves suddenly in danger are overcome withfeelings of fear, helplessness and guilt. In most instances these are normal reactionsto abnormal situations but as many as one in three rescuers may feel unable toregain control of their lives and experience severe symptoms, what in turn may leadto lasting PTSD, anxiety, or depression. Some common traumatic experiencesinclude multiple casualty incident, serious injury or death of a child, injury or death ofa co-worker, providing emergency care to a relative, abuse and neglect of infants andchildren, severe traumatic injury and amputation, intense media tension to anaccident.Particular symptoms may begin soon after the traumatic experience. The mainsymptoms are re-experiencing of the trauma and avoidance of trauma reminders(extreme attempts to avoid disturbing memories), accompanied by dissociativereactions (feeling completely unreal or outside, like in a dream), extreme emotionalnumbing, severe anxiety (paralysing worry, compulsions or obsessions). Togetherwith physiological this may result in a problem called posttraumatic stress disorder.Re-experiencing means that the rescuers continue to have some mental, emotional,and physical experiences that occurred just after the traumatic events or soon after.They are thinking about the trauma, seeing the horrific images, feeling agitated andhaving sensations like those occurring during the event. The results of such exposuremay lead to complex symptomatology in form of behavioural and adjustmentdisorder, or more severe, of posttraumatic stress reaction.How serious the symptoms and problems are afterwards depends on many thingsincluding a person’s life experiences before the trauma, a person’s own ability tocope with stress, and what kind of help or support a person gets from family, friends,or professional mental health assistance.