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Emmen Municipality Recognizes Former Firefighter’s PTSD as Occupational Disease – Compensation Pending

After 23 years, the municipality of Emmen now recognizes the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) of former firefighter Ruud Lohuis (63) as an occupational disease. This opens the way for compensation for all the damage he has suffered as a result of his illness. The Emmen resident reacts with relief. “23 years of fighting pays off. Yes man, this makes me so happy. This is what I have always waited for.”

Lohuis receives the redeeming news in his camper in Portugal, where he is ‘hibernating’. The decision of the municipality of Emmen feels ‘like a liberation’ to him. “The fight is finally over. They now have to bare their butts,” he says, referring to the negotiations about compensation that are yet to come.

“But I achieved everything I wanted, and to be honest, I didn’t expect this anymore,” says Lohuis, “but I certainly hoped for it.” That hope will especially grow if he achieves success this summer in proceedings before the highest court for civil servants, the Central Appeals Tribunal. He rules that Emmen is indeed liable for Lohuis’s psychological complaints. Because there was no aftercare, this court also concludes. “Finally the truth is coming to light,” Lohuis said hopefully at the time, after more than twenty years of struggle.

The Emmenaar was a fire guard and diver for the fire brigade in Emmen between 1982 and 1993. During that period he had to deal with about 25 serious incidents and this was not without consequences. Lohuis suffers from serious sleeping problems, has outbursts of anger and experiences relives and fears. He tries to get attention from his managers for his problems, but finds no response. “I shouldn’t complain and just get to work. Because it was part of our job.”

Due to his ‘unruly behavior’, Lohuis loses his job, his family and most of his circle of friends. In 2014, a psychiatrist from GGZ Emmen finally made a clear diagnosis: the man suffered from delayed PTSD, as a result of his traumatic experiences during his work in the fire brigade. The Emmen resident is entering a treatment process. He also holds the municipality liable for all material and immaterial damage he has suffered as a result of his illness. But Emmen does not want to know of any liability. Lohuis disputes this and remains combative despite several rejections.

This summer, the former firefighter will have the Central Appeals Council on his side. He believes that as a firefighter Lohuis had to deal with ‘excessive working conditions’ and that it is completely logical that this did not affect him. Emmen also failed in the aftercare process. That was a big slap on the wrist for the municipality.

Emmen could have appealed against the decision of the civil servants court, but ultimately did not do so. The mayor and the municipal secretary report in a letter to Lohuis’ counsel Ferre van de Nadort ‘that they now acknowledge liability due to Lohuis’ occupational disease’, and ‘that the request for compensation will be discussed further’. The letter is on behalf of the mayor and aldermen.

It also states that the municipality of Emmen has no burden of proof for ‘adequate aftercare’ to Lohuis, which it has claimed so far in the procedures. The Central Appeals Tribunal wants to see proof of this. But according to Emmen, that is not possible. “It concerns a situation that was so long ago that little or no relevant information can be found anymore. This means that we no longer have the opportunity to substantiate that the duty of care was fulfilled at the time.” Partly for this reason, Emmen has decided to acknowledge liability.

Opposite RTV Drenthe Emmen refuses further substantive comment on the case of the former firefighter. “We do not make any statements about personnel matters, not even if it concerns a former employee,” spokesperson Martin de Bruin said on behalf of the mayor.

Lawyer Van de Nadort will now continue with Emmen in the battle about compensation. The lawyer cannot and will not say anything about the possible amount of the damages. He does hope to be able to reach an agreement with the municipality ‘quickly and effectively’. “We want compensation for everything that happened to Ruud, hopefully everything can now be done more expeditiously,” says Van de Nadort.

Whether the parties will actually reach an agreement quickly remains to be seen. In 1995, agreements were made regarding the dismissal of Ruud Lohuis as a municipal official, but according to the former firefighter, these were ‘never fully fulfilled’. He will also no longer have access to the municipal system for his pay slips. That turns out to be a handicap.

“We still have to fully list the financial damage. To do this, Ruud’s financial administration must be complete, including his previous pay slips. So first we need to have all the information in order to then arrive at a well-substantiated damage amount.” , concludes Van de Nadort.

2023-11-27 14:38:52
#Emmen #admits #liability #firefighters #PTSD #happy

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