When you graduate out of the academy, you’ve got the uniform on, you know, you’ve got all your equipment, you’re feeling 10 foot tall and bullet-proof, that you can achieve anything.
“Three weeks out of the academy, 9.30 in the morning, there was a call, an offender’s on… I caught a glimpse of somebody disappearing out the back of the house and about to jump over the fence and standing the other side was a young guy with a shotgun pointing at me.”
“Around about two years ago, my son bought a car and I was taking him down Warrigal Road. I started getting the shakes and he’s going. ‘Dad are you all right?’ and I said, ‘Uh, I was just having a flashback to when I had my first shotgun pulled on me’.”
I’d first gone into the accident and investigation section in 1990 and everything was go, go, go, go, go. When the police are called to a road crash, you know, you’ve got to work out what’s happened, you’ve also then got to rehabilitate that scene. You know you’re seeing firsthand people dying in your arms. There was a lot. There were 2000 road fatalities all up, there were 20 police officers’ deaths, I had the back window of the car taken out at 11.30 at night in the driveway here one night part way through giving evidence in a trial.
These were instances that happened 30 years ago. And basically, the emotions of those events were sitting in my body all these years, and all of a sudden just started coming out.
Post traumatic stress disorder has been a helluva thing to … it’s a daily fight. I went through a helluva lot. I had a pretty high level of resilience and for the first 20 years of the job didn’t even know anything about it, didn’t think anything about it. But the last 10 years were very very hard.
You do get some people, you know, when you start talking about PTSD and what it is that don’t necessarily believe it. There is that stigma. They’re not with you overnight when you’re getting the shakes.
It can be a real struggle on some days but you know if you get through that day the next day is normally ok. You’ve just got to ride the humps and the bumps and say ok I’ve got through, I’ve had treatment I manage it daily but I’m a survivor.