MENTAL HEALTH

The TX boss says he was fired during his PTSD appeal

Cameron Kraemer had the patience of Job.

In work environments, his temperament rivaled the biblical prophet who endured many traumas but was not discouraged.

In August, after two major structural fires and a May callout, Kraemer, who served as a firefighter for the city of Frisco for 27 years, lost control and yelled at employees. The next day, a firefighter was seriously injured when a fire truck backed up and pinned him against a wall.

Kraemer said that while he was cleaning up blood and excretion from the event, he started crying uncontrollably, so he went home.

She has been dealing with PTSD since 2020 and has received medical help, she told the Dallas Morning News.

On May 1, Frisco fired him while he was in the middle of a workers compensation claim for PTSD.

Kraemer said the city doesn’t believe PTSD is work-related.

I’m sure most of you wouldn’t understand the impact of hearing a mom cry from the second story because her child is hanging in the closet in the other room. I’m sure most of you wouldn’t understand what it feels like to have a baby delivered to you, limp, from being found in the bathtub. I’m sure most of you don’t understand what it’s like to have multiple near-death experiences in structure fires. These things add up, Kraemer told the Frisco city council on May 2 during the public comment opportunity.

Frisco City Manager Wes Pierson later read a prepared statement, saying the city’s actions complied with his policies and with state and federal laws and regulations.

Employees are required to provide specific medical records and evidence that they meet legal requirements to qualify for particular leave and other benefits, Pierson said. The laws and regulations are very specific to ensure that all claims are evaluated consistently and fairly. A claim may be denied if sufficient documentation and medical evidence is not provided.

Kraemer, 46, took medical leave in August. He said he is under medical care and has provided the city with documentation. He said he is still healing and needs more time off, so he requested an additional 30 day extension.

Since you’re unable to return to work with or without reasonable accommodations by May 1, 2023, the city has no choice but to terminate your employment, Kraemers’ termination letter says.

The letter also stated that his absence is affecting the operations of the City of Frisco Fire Department and providing continued additional time off arrangements would cause undue burden and inconvenience to the department and the city, putting community safety at risk. and the department.

Kraemer said he’s been doing his best to make it through for years.

When it comes to mental illness, the higher you rank, the harder it is to talk about why you’re supposed to be this icon in relation to the operation, Kraemer said. And so you try to be Superman in the equation as far as boost is concerned, but then all the people around you start to suffer because your tank is full, its overflow and relief valves have to start popping. And in my particular case, I’ve bottled up a lot of stuff over time and run out of space to keep it.

About 30 percent of first responders suffer from mental health disorders, including depression and PTSD, according to research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the United States. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the 2018 SAMHSA Suicide Study, firefighters have higher rates of attempts and ideations than the general population.

Repeated exposure to traumatic situations increases firefighters’ vulnerability for developing PTSD with a prevalence ranging from 16% to 22%, which is much higher than that of the general population, according to a study of 2019 published on ScienceDirect.com.

Dena Ali, executive director of North Carolina’s first responder peer support, said diagnosing PTSD is difficult and requires a person to exhibit symptoms that impact their day-to-day ability to perform.

Ali said PTSD differs from PTSD, which is something all people are sensitive to and a normal response to an abnormal situation. In the latter, 80% heal naturally.

PTSD is like back pain, it’s hard to prove the real cause. Only the person who suffers knows the truth of its cause, Ali said. However, PTSD doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When PTSD occurs it is generally a recovery disorder. When people lack support or resources to practice self-care, they are more likely to suffer from PTSD.

Kraemer said maintaining the perception of a strong, healthy, patient leader was difficult during this illness.

The reality is, I was dying inside trying to keep that mantra, she said. And my family was dying in the process too, because I would have literally taken it home as it relates to my inability to have that patience elsewhere.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney read a proclamation during the May 16 city council meeting.

The stigma around mental health and treatment has been around for some time, though that has started to change. However, people hesitate to seek help or even tell their loved ones about it for fear of being judged and facing unnecessary backlash. Simple logic dictates that if we’re injured anywhere, we need to seek treatment to get better, Cheney said.

Frisco Firefighters Association president Matthew Sapp said it was ironic that the city would fire an employee asking for more time to recover from a mental illness on May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness Month.

For us to email an individual who put 27 years in town and told him he was fired and never gave him a call is highly inappropriate. The (resolution) letter says this is causing problems and that we need to provide services to citizens, Sapp told City Council on May 2. As far as I know, we have not failed in our duty to serve our citizens. I think our times are still good.

Sapp said, “Make no mistake, it’s not just about Chief Kraemer, it’s about the next guy.”

It’s about my year-old boyfriend who has seen two CPRs and a suicide in the past two weeks, Sapp said. What happens when he has PTSD and has 200 hours of sick leave? When he’s out of time, are we getting rid of him?

(Kraemer) doesn’t get a salary, so why the rush? Because if it’s just to add an assistant chief, we already have someone in place of him doing it, Sapp said. It is really annoying that we made this decision so abruptly and did not allow the individual to go through the workers appeals process.

City officials, in an email response to The News, said they can fire an employee, even if that person has a doctor’s note saying they’re not ready to return to work, if the person is out of all eligible work protected leave under the law and the City of Friscopolicy and an accommodation cannot be made under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.

The firing of an employee in the middle of a workers’ compensation appeal is handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the email.

The bottom line in all of this is that the city has abandoned me, Kraemer said.

Kraemers’ attorney, hired by the Fire Fighters Association, declined to comment on this story.

Kraemer said his plans for the future are to continue healing so he can return to work in the fire department. His hopes are that no one else suffers the humiliation of their employer like he did or worse, they will be afraid to seek help and not survive.

What you really want to do is hide, and that’s what I caught myself doing, he said. Then I went to my doctor and said: I’m trying to be proactive about this. And I quickly realized that I was very, very responsive. What I thought was proactive would have been a long time ago, she said. I learned a lot in the process. But I also learned how vulnerable I was, and still am, but I’m getting better.

2023 The Dallas Morning News. Visitdallasnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

#boss #fired #PTSD #appeal

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