PTSD is having an impact on first responders all across the United States. A new documentary is being developed to tell the story. Filmmakers, Conrad Weaver, of Emmitsburg, and Nancy Frohman are working on the documentary to shed light on this ongoing issue that has often been ignored or glossed over.
PTSD911 will be a feature-length documentary telling the stories of firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and 911 dispatchers who are struggling with the effects of years of encountering severe traumatic incidents. Suicide rates among first responder groups in the United States are much higher than the general population. In 2016, 139 firefighters died by suicide. In 2019, 228 police officers died by suicide, nearly twice the number of officers who died in the line of duty. Both firefighters and police officers are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Many first responders self-medicate with alcohol or other self-destructive and abusive behaviors in an effort to cope with the stress and trauma they deal with daily.
Weaver says the film will help educate the general public about the stressors first responders face, “We expect them to show up when we call and take care of us when we’re at our worst. We know they are heroes, but we don’t realize that many are in trouble themselves!” Weaver hopes the film will not only raise awareness, but also inspire systemic changes in agencies that don’t have adequate support systems in place to care for members who are suffering from post-traumatic stress.
The film project has been endorsed by a number of organizations who provide help and training for first responders, including Concerns of Police Survivors, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Blue HELP, the National Emergency Number Association, and others; a complete list can be found on the film’s website at www.ptsd911movie.com.
The filmmakers recently released a teaser trailer for PTSD911, and they have launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.com (bit.ly/PTSD911) to raise funds for the production of the film. “We’ll begin working on this as soon as the funds are in place, and COVID-19 restrictions are eased, allowing us to travel more freely. We hope to have the film completed by Fall of 2021,” said Weaver.
To learn more about PTSD911, visit the website at www.ptsd911movie.com.