LETTER: Support from a former firefighter

Comment in support of former Penticton fire chief Wayne Williams.

I recently wrote a comment on Oliver Daily News in support of former Penticton fire chief Wayne Williams and after reading your article (Western News, June 24, Former chief suing city) detailing the reasons for his civil suit I write with authority on post traumatic stress disorder and WorksafeBC.

I have PTSD and in 2000 had to take early retirement because Worksafe wrote to me denying my claim in favour of a diagnosis of extreme anxiety with a professionally damning written statement that I was in danger of making serious mistakes during emergency incidents which could endanger staff, myself and the people I served.

As directed, I went to a psychologist who flashed red lights in my face; I found no relief and because of work commitment in a small fire department I returned to work but decided that with the Worksafe letter on file I could be found negligent for making a mistake so I retired on a reduced pension. We sold our house and moved to the Okanagan to save money.

Now to Worksafe and its process. Because I returned to work I was deemed cured; because I did not file an appeal within 90 days (during which time I had a hard time dealing with anything, let alone Worksafe) I was deemed to have no desire to contest their decision. Worksafe has internal psychologists who review cases even to the extent of reviewing reports from independent psychologists contracted by Worksafe to assess claimants. They will not accept at face value a report from a claimant’s psychiatrist. It is my contention that Worksafe is so concerned by the potential cost of claimants who have PTSD that they look for any reason they can find to reject claims.

So don’t go back to work until you are sure you are OK; get professional help with your claim. In 2014 Worksafe issued a ‘worker’ related statement which was never sent to me and financially I have found it necessary to request a “Permanent Functional Disability.” The process is protracted and has taken six months to date. I am not the least bit optimistic.

Pat Hampson,

Oliver

Squamish Fire Rescue, (Retired.)