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Friday, April 27, 2012

Traumatized firefighters to get help


The Fire and Disaster Management Agency will set up a panel to study ways to treat stress disorders in firefighters traumatized by major disasters, officials said.

The agency made the decision after learning of the dire mental conditions firefighters were subjected to in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coastline on March 11 last year and set off a nuclear crisis that triggered fears of radiation, the officials said.

The agency, which is overseen by the internal affairs ministry, set up a panel in 2001 to address mental health issues, but its reports focused only on stress related to conventional firefighting. The new panel, which will include mental health experts, plans to hold its first meeting this summer and release a report by the end of next March.

It first plans to survey firefighters who were deployed in areas hit by the March 2011 disasters and ask them about their experiences and current mental state.

The panel will also examine the effects of mental health services they were provided by psychiatrists and others the agency sent into the disaster zone between May 2011 and last month.

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