Fired Frisco Deputy Fire Chief Says City 'Abandoned Me' Despite PTSD Documents (2023)

Cameron Kramer has the patience of Job.

In a work environment, his temperament is comparable to that of a biblical prophet, and he has experienced a lot of trauma without being intimidated.

In August, after two large structure fires and an emergency call, Kramer, a Frisco firefighter of 27 years, lost control and yelled at employees. The next day, a firefighter was seriously injured when an inverted fire truck was smashed into a wall.

Kramer said she began to cry uncontrollably as she cleaned up the blood and feces from the incident and went home.

Fired Frisco Deputy Fire Chief Says City 'Abandoned Me' Despite PTSD Documents (1)

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He told reporters that since 2020 he has been dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been seeking medical help.dallas morning paper.

Frisco fired him on May 1 while he was filing a workers' compensation appeal for PTSD.

Kramer said the city does not consider PTSD to be work related.

"I'm sure most of you won't understand the impact of hearing your mom crying on the second floor while her baby is hanging in a closet in another room. I'm sure most of you won't understand what it's like to find a child limping in a bathtub. I'm sure most of you don't understand what it's like to have multiple near-death experiences in a structure fire. These things add up," Kramer told the Frisco City Council during a public hearing. opportunity to comment on May 2.

Frisco City Manager Wes Pearson then read a prepared statement, saying the city's actions were consistent with its policies and state and federal laws and regulations.

“Employees must provide specific medical documentation and evidence that meets legal requirements that they qualify for special leave and other benefits,” Pearson said. "The laws and regulations are very specific to ensure that all claims are evaluated uniformly and fairly. Claims may be denied if sufficient medical documentation and evidence is not provided."

Survey Finds Many Dallas Firefighters Struggle With Mental Health Issues

Kraemer, 46, called in sick in August. He said that he was being treated by doctors and that he had provided documents to the city. He said that he was still recovering and needed more rest, so he asked for an additional 30 days.

“Since you will not be able to return to work, with or without reasonable accommodations, until May 1, 2023, the City has no choice but to terminate your employment,” Kraemer's termination letter read.

The letter also said that his absence "jeopardizes the operations of the City of Frisco Fire Department and that continuing to provide additional licenses would place undue burden and hardship on the department and the city, jeopardizing the safety of the community and from the Department". ."

Kramer said he's been doing his best to hold on over the years.

"When it comes to mental illness, the higher you are on the chart, the harder it is to mention because you're supposed to be an icon associated with surgery," Kramer said. "So when you're trying to be superhuman in the propulsion-related equation, but then everyone around you starts to suffer because your tank is full, it overflows, and the safety valve has to start closing. In my particular case, well, Over time, I packed so many things in that I ran out of space to store them."

It is said that about 30% of first responders suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Investigation(SAMHSA), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A 2018 SAMHSA study on suicide showed that firefighters had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts than the general population.

Repeated exposure to trauma increases the vulnerability of firefighters to PTSD, with a prevalence ranging from 16% to 22%, much higher than in the general population.2019 research published in

Dena Ali, executive director of peer support for first responders in North Carolina, said diagnosing PTSD is difficult and requires a person to have symptoms that interfere with their ability to perform daily tasks.

PTSD is different from post-traumatic stress, which is an effect that all people are susceptible to and a normal response to abnormal situations, Ali said. Of the latter, 80% recover spontaneously.

"PTSD is like back pain, it's hard to prove the true cause. Only those affected know the truth about its cause," Ali said. "However, PTSD doesn't just occur in a vacuum. When PTSD occurs, it is often a recovery disorder. When people lack support or resources for self-care, they are more likely to develop PTSD."

It can be difficult to maintain the image of a strong, healthy and patient leader while dealing with illness, Kramer said.

"The reality is, deep down, I'm trying to uphold that mantra," he said. "My family also died in the process, because I'm literally taking it home with me because it's related to my lack of patience everywhere else."

with plumMental Health Awareness Month, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney read a proclamation at the city council meeting on May 16.

"Stigma has long existed around mental health and treatment, although this has begun to change. Despite this, the fear of being judged and facing unnecessary backlash discourages people from seeking help, even with your loved ones. Talk about it. Simple logic says that if injured anywhere, we all have to seek treatment to recover," Cheney said.

Matthew Sapp, president of the Frisco Firefighters Association, said it was ironic that the city fired an employee who asked for more time to heal a mental illness on May 1, the start of Mental Health Awareness Month.

“For us to email a guy who's been in town for 27 years and tell him he got fired and never call him back was grossly inappropriate. (Termination) The letter says that's the cause of the problem and we have to serve the citizens," Sapp told town hall on May 2. "To the best of my knowledge, we have failed in our duty to serve our citizens. I think our timing is still good."

"Make no mistake, this is not just about Chief Kramer, this is about the next one," Sapp said.

"This is about a boy from my year who has seen two CPRs and one suicide in the last two weeks," Sapp said. "What happens when he has PTSD and has 200 hours of sick leave? Are we going to get rid of him when he's not there?

"(Kramer) didn't get paid, so why the rush? Because if it's just another vice principal, we already have someone to replace him," Sapp said. "It's really concerning that we made this decision so suddenly and we don't allow people to go through the workers' compensation complaint process."

City officials responded by, stating that they can terminate an employee even if that person has a medical certificate stating that they are not ready to return to work, if that person has exhausted all eligible job protection leave under the law and City of Frisco policy , and Accommodations cannot be provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments.

According to the email, the termination of an employee during a workers' compensation appeal is done on a case-by-case basis.

"The bottom line of all this is that the city has abandoned me," Kramer said.

An attorney for Kramer, hired by the Fire Fighters Association, declined to comment for this story.

Kramer said his future plans are to continue his recovery so that he can return to work with the fire department. He hoped no one else felt as humiliated by his employers as he did, or worse, too scared to ask for help.

"What you really want to do is hide from it, and that's what I found myself doing," he said. "Then I went to my doctor and said, 'I'm trying to be proactive with this.' I quickly realized that I was being too reactive. I thought the proactive was there from the beginning," he said. "I learned a lot in the process. But I also learned how vulnerable I was, and I still am, but I'm getting better."

Former Frisco Fire Chief Charged With Negligence; retirement may have been forced, public records show
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