Assemblyman Giglio: More PTSD Treatment Is Needed

July 18, 2020

From Assembyman Joe Giglio:

LITTLE VALLEY, NY — Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio was joined by experts from Cattaraugus County and the American Legion Department of New York State today to ask Governor Cuomo to implement a non-invasive PTSD treatment called Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) to treat medical workers and front-line first responders who suffer from PTSD as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.

“The response by our medical professionals, EMS providers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York has been heroic,” said Giglio. “But the bravery and resolve of our front-line responders has had a terrible cost. At the height of the pandemic in New York City, EMT John Mondello killed himself after fewer than three months on the job. Just a few days later, emergency room physician Lorna Breen also committed suicide. The stresses placed on these professionals are great enough during normal times. As we all know, responding to the COVID pandemic has been anything but normal, especially for the people who have been the closest to victims. They deserve every resource we have to help them cope and heal the mental wounds that they’ve acquired during these especially trying times.”

RTM Protocol has been successful in alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress in over 90% of military veterans in clinical studies. The therapeutic techniques involve questioning individuals to elicit a physiologic response; they are then guided through several levels of dissociation. The process is repeated until the individual is able to discuss the trauma without discomfort, and a successful intervention has been achieved.

Maj. Mike Suter, USMC, Ret., and Veteran Services Consultant for the American Legion Department of New York, has first-hand experience with RTM protocol. “Suicides can be eliminated or seriously diminished through the reduction of traumatic stress. A breakthrough treatment has been developed that saves lives and resolves the stress brought on by traumatic events or sets of circumstances referred to as PTSD. Testimonials from military, veterans, police, fire, prison guards, EMS and civilians – all of whom have experienced the profound healing provided by the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) Protocol are available. Like most public health challenges, suicide is preventable. While progress will continue to be made into the future, evidence currently exists that the RTM Protocol is of short duration, inexpensive and has been evidence confirmed as effective and ready to be implemented now to reduce stress and suicides.”

Medical professionals nationwide have felt a strain in dealing with patients afflicted with COVID. Dr. Kevin Watkins, Public Health Director, Cattaraugus County Health Department agreed that treatment is essential. “Coping with traumatic events affects survivors, rescue workers, and the friends and relatives of victims who have been involved. Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) therapy has the potential to reverse the long standing impact of dealing with such distressing situations. RTM therapy will add a new dimension in therapy for healthcare workers who encounter traumatic occurrences on a daily basis.”

According to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation, more first responders die by suicide than in the line of duty. Additionally, first responders are five times more likely than the general public to suffer from the symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress.

Chris Baker, Director and County Fire Coordinator, Cattaraugus County Department of Emergency Services, recognizes the problem of depression and job stresses among first responders locally. “We already do crisis stress debriefings for our first responders. The awareness level (of PSTD) is higher now, and we are more conscious of that. If there’s an issue, we must have a conversation. It’s good for the culture that there is that level of awareness of what stress can do to our responders. There is a real need for intervention, and it helps them. We do much more stress management and debriefing work in our training. RTM is another technique we can use to help first responders cope.”

“We have a proven method,”said Giglio. “We are asking that Governor Cuomo implement the program and make training in RTM Protocol available statewide to protect our essential medical workers and first responders from the dangers of PTSD and job-related depression. New Yorkers literally owe their lives to the sacrifices made by these brave men and women. They deserve every opportunity and available treatment. It is our responsibility to save their lives in return.”

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio represents the 148th District, which consists of all of Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, and portions of Steuben County as well. For more information, visit Assemblyman Giglio’s Official Website.