When the call came in, paramedic Chuck Cali and his partner hoped it was a mistake, or some feeble attempt to get the fire department there faster: “Neighbors report there’s a man on fire walking down the street.”
Then they turned a corner.
He was just standing there, not waving his hands or yelling. All his hair had been burned away. So had his clothes. Naked and still smoldering, everything that had made him recognizable was gone. Everything but his wide eyes. The 23-year-old had suffered more burns than the decorated Cleveland paramedic had seen on some cadavers, and yet here he was, talking to them. ...In its latest contract proposal, the EMS union drew up a set of mental health initiatives for its paramedics, dispatchers and EMTs, including one that would allow them to qualify for treatment and paid time off for PTSD — post-traumatic-stress disorder.