ProPublica, WMFE host forum on PTSD in first responders at Orlando Public Library tonight


  • Photo by Jeremy Reper
The nonprofit media organization ProPublica and 90.7 WMFE are hosting a forum on post-traumatic stress disorder in local first responders at the downtown Orlando Public Library on Wednesday.

Two years after a gunman killed 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse, many police officers, dispatchers, firefighters and paramedics who responded to the mass shooting are still feeling the effects of PTSD. WMFE reports that anywhere from 6.5 percent to 37 percent of first responders have PTSD symptoms. One out of every 15 paramedics has attempted suicide, according to a 2015 survey.

The event will be held inside the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center starting at 6 p.m. The forum plans to "dive into the way PTSD affects first responders and their families, as well as how the city’s police and fire departments handle the disorder in their ranks and whether Florida’s new bill providing disability benefits for impacted first responders goes far enough to remedy the immense needs," according to ProPublica.

The event will also feature an immersive audio-visual experience based on WMFE health reporter Abe Aboraya's interviews with first responders and their families. After that, there will be a panel discussion that includes two first responders; state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith; state Sen. Victor Torres; Michael Saxe, the head of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 145; and  Geoff Bichler, a workers’ compensation attorney in Orlando specializing in representing first responders.

If you are a first responder who is interested in sharing your story, you can sign up to be interviewed by a reporter from WMFE or ProPublica. You can also record a conversation about your experiences with a friend, colleague or family member. Click here for more information about the recording process.

Although the event is free, space is limited – make sure to RSVP here. Light refreshments will be provided. 

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