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Firefighters struggling with PTSD after Black Summer fires, study shows



Firefighters who helped extinguish the Black Summer bushfires in 2019 are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a new study says.

Half of Australia's volunteer firefighters struggled with symptoms of the mental health condition one year on from the Black Summer bushfires, according to the study by Western Australia's Edith Cowan University.

Ben Shepard, from the Rural Fire Service, said that a number of things lead to the PTSD symptoms.

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"More than 400 of our firefighters lost their homes and business [during the fires] or had an impact on them directly," he told 9news.

"On top of that, [for] some of our brigades, losing their fellow firefighters, it [had] an enormous impact.

"Once we do see an increase in fire activity we might see a situation where more of our firefighters realise they do need help."

The Rural Fire Service also said that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns made matters worse for firefighters' mental health.

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Emergency services minister Jihad Dib said the government would help provide the necessary support.

"We thank them for their service, but once they've done that service we need to make sure they're okay and that they can go back to their families fit and healthy," he said.

"We want a situation where people who have had our backs are confident we have got theirs.

"We will do everything we can, of course. Any support that can be provided, will be there."

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