Firefighter Consoles Veteran With PTSD During Shaky Commercial Flight

Firefighter Consoles Veteran With PTSD During Shaky Commercial Flight

A Marine Corps veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it from New Orleans to Dallas because of a compassionate first responder who says he has his “own battles.”

Fire Captain Bobby Davidson noticed that one of his fellow passengers seemed to be having a panic attack. He later learned that the woman was a Marine Corps veteran who had been diagnosed with PTSD after a serious plane crash. Davidson, who is an Air Force veteran, continually reassured the woman and helped her breathe normally. “A lot of it, we do manage to put away,” Davidson remarked. “But some of it just won’t go away. It fills up. Everybody is different. Unfortunately for her, like a lot of us, you never know when that’s going to fill up,” he explained.

The flight crew was ready to divert the airplane, but Davidson’s intervention meant that everyone made it to their destinations on time. The airline sent Davidson a letter thanking him for his service. “We are all grateful that you were onboard and freely offered your medical expertise when it was needed most. Mr. Davidson, without a doubt, you greatly improved a difficult situation.”

“I’m sure, for her, I didn’t say everything right. I tried to give her what I could and what I would want someone to do for me,” Davidson concluded.

Combat-Related PTSD

As outlined below, almost any extremely stressful event, such as a plane crash, could cause PTSD. Other examples include being in a serious training accident, being a victim of MST (Military Sexual Trauma), or witnessing MST. Even if the brain injury was not directly related to the contractor’s job responsibilities, compensation could be available through the Defense Base Act. More on that below, as well.

The vast majority of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder injuries among private military contractors returning from Syria and elsewhere are combat-related. These combat-related injuries have been around for thousands of years, but until recently, no one really knew how to help these victims.

Among American soldiers, PTSD issues were relatively rare until the Civil War. Previous conflicts were usually low-intensity operations and/or operations which were close to home. So, combat stress was not a widespread problem. The Civil War was different, especially for Union soldiers. Men who had never been more than walking distance from their front doors suddenly found themselves in places they probably could not find on a map.

Furthermore, the weapons were far ahead of the tactics in the Civil War. Until then, soldiers used smoothbore muskets, which had an effective range of about 50 yards. The rifled muskets which both sides used in the early stages of the war had an effective range of about 200 yards. Moreover, the ammunition these soldiers used, the Minie Ball, was less a bullet and more of a cannon ball. Later in the war, Union troops used repeating rifles, the mid-18th century equivalent of a light machine gun.

In these conditions, many soldiers suffered from a condition doctors called “nostalgia.” This illness was most likely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But doctors believed it was an advanced form of homesickness. The cure, which ironically probably caused the PTSD in the first place, was a vigorous offensive campaign.

Military technology advanced by leaps and bounds over the next fifty years. Artillery is a good example.

In the Civil War, most artillery guns used picric acid, an explosive related to fireworks. Civil War soldiers did not wear metal helmets, mostly because there was little danger from shrapnel. Around 1905, the Imperial German Army switched to TNT. The world’s other armies soon followed suit. The difference between a fireworks show and a World War I artillery barrage is impossible to describe.

Other military innovations include poison gas, which both the Allies and Central Powers used extensively, and machine guns.

World War I’s “shell shock” victims were “battle fatigue” victims in World War II. At most military hospitals, the majority of patients were suffering from battle fatigue. In both conflicts, most doctors believed that PTSD victims just needed rest, and they would be good to go. This attitude was the prevailing thought through the Vietnam era. It persists today, despite clear evidence to the contrary. These lingering misconceptions underscore the need for medical treatment from a brain injury specialist. The DBA usually pays for this treatment.

Is PTSD a Physical Brain Injury?

Absolutely. Although they are not sure why it happens, scientists have confirmed that exposure to extreme stress, such as combat stress, creates a chemical imbalance in the brain between the cerebral cortex and the amygdala.

Basically, the cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses, is like a cowboy. The amygdala, which controls emotional responses, is like an unbroken stallion. If the cowboy does not hold the reins tightly, the stallion goes wild. So, if the cerebral cortex shrinks, the patient cannot react logically to certain situations. Instead, the patient reacts emotionally. The resulting imbalance leads to symptoms like:

  • Depression,
  • Flashbacks,
  • Loss of interest,
  • Anger,
  • Nightmares,
  • Anxiety, and
  • Hypervigilance.

Extensive physical therapy often reduces these symptoms. A brain injury physical therapist must train uninjured parts of the brain to assume the lost functions. But all the therapy in the world will not correct a chemical imbalance. On the pharmaceutical front, many PTSD patients have responded well to MDMA (Molly or Ecstacy). Most patients show a significant improvement after just one dose.

Compensation Available

PTSD, like hearing loss and a few other conditions, is usually an occupational disease. Most doctors believe that prolonged exposure to stressful situations could cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The main issue here is that many private military contractors were police officers or other emergency responders before they became contractors. These individuals deal with moments of extreme stress almost every shift. Therefore, many DBA insurance company lawyers argue that the contractor’s previous service caused the PTSD.

Lawyers for the National Football League were poised to make this same argument in the NFL’s huge concussion lawsuit. This uncertainty is one major reason that dispute settled out of court.

DBA claims are different. Full compensation is available if an attorney shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the contractor-related PTSD aggravated the responder-related PTSD, as opposed to the other way around. Admittedly, that is a very fine line. So, most attorneys partner with medical experts in these situations.

Full compensation is also available if the injury was only indirectly related to deployment. For example, if Sarah falls in the airport on her way to her deployment in Kuwait, the DBA probably applies.

An extreme one-time event, such as the aforementioned plane crash, could also cause PTSD. So, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could also be a trauma injury, like a fall or a gunshot wound. The only difference is that most trauma injury victims immediately feel the effects. PTSD victims often feel okay for many months.

In trauma injury PTSD claims, insurance company attorneys often argue that extensive physical therapy or cutting-edge medical therapy is not reasonably necessary. Attorneys stand up for victims in these situations, so the money keeps flowing and victims continue improving.

For more information about DBA procedure, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro. P.A.