Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1700 12
M. Crystal
  • Ambulance attendant
  • Stress, mental
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (stress, mental) (traumatic event)

A paramedic appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for traumatic mental stress.

In April 2002, the worker attended at a horrific, fatal construction accident involving dismembered bodies of the accident victims. For entitlement under Board policy, three fundamental criteria must be met: 1) the event is clearly and precisely identifiable; 2) the event is objectively traumatic; and 3) the event is unexpected in the normal or daily course of the worker's employment or work environment. The employer accepted that the first two criteria were met in this case but submitted that the third criterion was not met. However, the Panel found that the incident was sudden and unexpected not only in everyday life but also within the work environment of a paramedic. A paramedic is accustomed to attending scenes of very serious accidents but the scene in this case, with dismembered human remains, would be traumatic, sudden and unexpected for any worker, including a seasoned veteran in an occupation that requires attendance at emergency scenes.
There was an issue as to whether the onset of the worker's symptoms was delayed until May 2002. The Panel was satisfied that the worker experienced symptoms immediately but did not seek treatment until symptoms became more acute in May. In any event, Board policy allows for entitlement even if there has been a delay in onset of symptoms.
The appeal was allowed.