Feb 18, 2024 | UK News

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has commissioned psychology researchers at the University of Kent to conduct a study – the ‘Psychology of Rescue’ – to look at how actions or inactions may impact the psychology of those rescued from road traffic collisions.

In the last five years, KFRS has attended over 5,600 road crashes, in which more than 3,500 people have been injured. It is believed that 16.8 per cent of people involved in a traumatic event will potentially suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Looking at these figures, that equates to 588 people within Kent alone, who may go on to suffer from PTSD or even Complex-PTSD (C-PTSD).

It is completely unknown how many onlookers and bystanders have also been exposed to trauma from witnessing the RTC and/or extrication. And little is known about the point at which PTSD may be triggered during a traumatic event, or whether ongoing sustained trauma soon after a rescue (known as the hypersensitive phase, when response to threat is heightened) can increase the likelihood of PTSD.

By interviewing those rescued from RTCs by fire crews within Kent, researchers hope to identify when and how rescue processes impact the casualty, and maintain it’s the first time that casualties themselves will provide an account of their psychological experience at the hands of the fire and rescue service.

Using these findings, the researchers at the University of Kent aim to implement evidence-based changes in the response rescue at an RTC, to improve the psychological experience of RTC casualties.

They claims that the negative psychological impact that a traumatic event can potentially have on the long-term quality of life post incident for casualties is huge. This can include but is not limited to, breakdown of relationships, loss of employment, alcohol or drug dependency, and a need for long-term psychological support. The NHS current waiting times suggest that 75% of those requiring therapy should have an appointment within six weeks of referral and 95% of those within 18 weeks.

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