Foto: Preston Keres
Foto: Preston Keres

A study of rescue- and cleanup personnel indicates a significant difference in the groups reactions after 9/11. While 3/4 of the police workers had few or no symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), almost half of the cleanup-workers had PTSD symptoms.

The police responders displayed four trajectories of PTSD symptoms:

  • 76% had few or none symptoms of PTSD
  • 12% gradually became worse
  • 8% improved
  • 4% developed chronic PTSD

The cleanup-workers displayed five developmental patterns of PTSD:

  • 56% had few or none symptoms
  • 19% became subtly worse over time
  • 11% developed chronic PTSD
  • 9% improved
  • 6% had a steeply worsening

The conclusion is that rescue personnel with knowledge, training, and experience handling extreme situations, had a lower level of PTSD-symptoms than the cleanup-workers.  This is important knowledge for the preparation of rescue workers responding to terrorist attacks or other disasters.