City must recognize PTSD for Cleveland EMS crews, judge rules

Updated: Dec. 16, 2019 at 5:42 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland EMS crews have been fighting the city for more than a year now to recognize PTSD as a part of their union contract.

On Friday, a judge ruled in the union’s favor.

19 News has been covering this story for the past year.

The city was challenging PTSD language in the pending CARE 1975 union contract, even though an arbitrator ruled in their favor.

The issue went to a higher court, and Judge Michael Russo ruled that mental health can be considered an injury.

This will allow Cleveland EMS workers to take paid leave in “certain qualifying events.”

This includes taking a call for a child's death, mass casualties and responding to the death of a family member or coworker.

The union issued a statement Friday, after the ruling:

“CARE is pleased with the court’s decision and looks forward to negotiating our next contract with the city. We appreciate all the hard work that was put forward by Judge Russo.”

Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees, known as CARE 1975, represents about 300 dispatchers, paramedics and EMTs at Cleveland EMS.

In our 19 News investigation this past January, we found police and fire have protocol in place to respond to PTSD, but Cleveland EMS did not.

Three Cleveland EMS paramedics share their stories of mental trauma on the job.
Three Cleveland EMS paramedics share their stories of mental trauma on the job.(WOIO)

We spoke to three Cleveland EMS paramedics dealing with PTSD who asked we conceal their identities.

“We maintenance our trucks, we maintenance our equipment, we maintenance the radios, the stretchers that we push these patients around on. But there's no maintenance for us as people who go out and do this job,” a paramedic said.

The city of Cleveland can appeal the judge’s ruling.

Here is the city’s response:

“The City of Cleveland takes the mental health of its employees seriously and has existing resources in place to address those issues. The court’s decision creates ambiguity that may result in an abuse of time, which could adversely impact those we serve. The City is currently evaluating its options.”

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