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.