By EMS1 Staff
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland EMS providers are fighting for PTSD support in contract negotiations, which have been put on hold by city officials.
Cleveland 19 reported that the city of Cleveland asked the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees to throw out an arbitration ruling that would have put a protocol in place for PTSD in a new contract for EMS providers.
“Our other safety forces, police and fire, both have PTSD [protocols]. They have a process of trying to get people into PTSD [care],” CARE President Paul Melhuish said.
Melhuish highlighted an example of when an EMS provider really needed PTSD support.
“This crew has had two newborn full arrests, which is cardiac arrest. The one paramedic really had issues this morning. He just got off shift and we had to refer him immediately to EAP services,” he said. “Fire and police have their specific people that they go to. EMS, we don’t have anyone to go to.”
CARE’s contract ends in April, and the union wants to add PTSD to the Hazardous Duty Injury section of their new one.
If PTSD is added to the contract, EMS providers can take paid leave if they are diagnosed with the disorder.
Arbitration documents say that the city claims to already have resources available for EMS providers, and that officials are worried PTSD protocol would “open the door” to “exponentially” increasing PTSD claims.
The arbitrator, however, ruled in favor of the EMS union.
“The city, a lot of their responses were, ‘Hey, if you don’t like it, quit. And that’s just not appropriate,” Melhuish said. “People came into this career, they know what they’re doing, they do, they know what they’re getting into. But no one ever tells you how you’re going to react to what you’re going to see. Everyone processes things differently. It’s difficult.”
The union is asking to use a doctor that already evaluates Cleveland Police officers for PTSD, and is also asking that a current employee act as a PTSD counselor.
City officials argued that the arbitrator ruled incorrectly and are requesting a new one, claiming the arbitrator’s ruling “contained inexplicable redundancies, oversights, inconsistencies and irrational analyses.”
The city also claimed that CARE asked for eight or more months of paid leave for mental trauma and said that “would add millions” to EMS costs.