There's a disturbing trend among firefighters and other first responders that you might not expect: post-traumatic stress.

Firefighters respond to a variety of calls, most of which are medical emergencies. They see traumatic events, sometimes multiple times a day. Some research shows that firefighters have a higher rate of post-traumatic stress than even deployed military, because it can build up over decades of service.

"We get to see, good, bad or otherwise, some of the more tragic events that happen in people's lives," Central Lyon County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Bob Ryser said. "If you're calling us, that's not a good day for you."
Ryser has been researching the problem ever since he noticed that the rate of firefighter suicides has risen higher than the rate of firefighters who die in the line of duty. He believes it's because of a lack of adequate preparation for the difficult things firefighters have to deal with every day, and because the emotional toll isn't really talked about.
"It is taboo to speak about, because the expectation is that you are walking a relatively thin line, and you're going to be running into, in our case, burning buildings," Ryser said. "Or you're going to emergency scenes to try and calm the situation. And when you admit that those things are affecting you, you lose that edge."
Ryser is working to create programs to help firefighters deal with the stress, and get professional help when they need it. His full interview airs on Face the State: Saturday at 4:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Episodes are posted here after they air.