Firefighter Awarded Accidental Disability Retirement for PTSD

Mr. Travers, a former firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Town of Winchester, was ultimately awarded an accidental disability retirement based on his claim that he suffered disabling post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to the scene of a quadruple murder.

On June 16, 2010, Mr. Travers responded to a well-being call on Windsong Lane, a quiet street in a wealthy section of the community. This call exposed him to an extremely bloody and gory scene. Two days after exposure to this horrific crime scene, Boston Fire Department Critical Incident Team leader singled him out from others who had been at the scene and referred him to the Massachusetts General Hospital Critical and Emergency Psychiatric team. Mr. Travers experienced a litany of psychiatric symptoms and underwent hospital admissions for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was prescribed psychiatric medication.

He underwent in-patient and out-patient therapy and reported experiencing nightmares, agitation, an inability to remember or focus on tasks, and a lack of appetite. He was examined on March 8, 2013 by a regional medical panel composed of three psychiatrists, who unanimously determined that he was disabled, the disability was likely to be permanent, and it might have been the natural and proximate result of a personal injury he sustained while in the performance of his duties.

The DALA Magistrate overturned the local retirement board’s denial of Travers’ disability retirement application. It ruled that he was permanently disabled by PTSD caused by his reaction to being exposed, while in the performance of his duties, to the bloody remains of two people murdered at a home on Windsong Lane. He has demonstrated that he is eligible for accidental disability retirement. This determination was made notwithstanding his eventual return to work after the trauma exposure and his pre-existing psychiatric history as well as his arrest for a weapons charge.