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Christchurch quake rescuer Bill Toomey wins fight for ACC cover for post-traumatic stress


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#1 Wing nut

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:47 PM

FROM STUFF: http://www.stuff.co....raumatic-stress


Christchurch quake rescuer Bill Toomey wins fight for ACC cover for post-traumatic stress
CECILE MEIER
Last updated 11:28, May 1 2017

1493598830851.jpg
Bill Toomey described the post-quake scene at the PGC building in February 2011 as "horrific".

Christchurch builder Bill Toomey has won a landmark case against ACC to cover the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered after pulling people from a collapsed building after the February 2011 earthquake.

After the earthquake hit, Toomey downed his tools and drove into town to see how he could help.

Firemen took him into the PGC building, where he helped drill through a concrete floor to rescue people trapped inside.

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Matty Lovell
Bill Toomey was part of a team of volunteers who helped dig a hole on a floor of the collapsed PGC building to rescue trapped people.

He described the scene as "horrific".

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"I could hear people screaming, there was dust everywhere."

1493598830851.jpg
Matty Lovell
Workers enter the PGC Building through a hole cut in a concrete floor.

Two years later, Toomey had what he thought was a heart attack. After three hospital admissions and a battery of tests, he was diagnosed with PTSD.

His symptoms included chest pain, difficulty with walking, nightmares and shaking. He was unable to work for more than two years.

Concrete dust, sirens and people screaming could trigger Toomey's shaking. He would struggle to breathe and think he would die.

1493598830851.jpg
Derek Flynn
A woman is freed from the PGC building after being trapped for more than 20 hours.

ACC denied his claim because his mental health injury was not triggered at work.

His lawyer, Louise Newman, said the ACC Act covered mental injury in limited circumstances.

"We argued it was still a work-related injury because he was using his specialist skills as a builder," she said.

1493598830851.jpg
DEREK FLYNN
Urban Search and Rescue at the PGC building work to free people day after the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

"We don't want to deincentivise people wanting to help with emergency situations."

The Auckland District Court agreed it was a work-related injury.

Newman said opened the door for less restrictive legislation for mental injury cover.

Toomey said the court decision took a heavy weight off his shoulders.

"It was amazing. I had to ring my lawyer again after she told me the news to make sure I wasn't dreaming."

Toomey said his condition improved after a year of counselling. He had started to work again.

He hoped he would get back-pay from ACC and that his case would help other people get cover for mental health conditions.

An ACC spokesman said the organisation's lawyers were reviewing the decision, which was released Friday, to decide whether or not to appeal it.

It was too early to tell what the decision would mean for other people suffering a mental injury while volunteering their professional skills, he said.

- Stuff

http://www.stuff.co....raumatic-stress


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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:52 AM

ACC appeals payout for Christchurch quake rescuer with post-traumatic stress
CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 21:05, May 17 2017


ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff.co.nz
Bill Toomey, speaking at the site of Christchurch's PGC building, speaks about his experience there immediately after the February 2011 earthquake.

ACC will go back to court to fight a man who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after pulling people from a collapsed building during the February 2011 earthquake.

ACC lodged an appeal to the High Court on Wednesday, two-and-a-half weeks after a landmark court decision was made in Christchurch builder Bill Toomey's favour.

Toomey's claim was denied because his mental health injury was not triggered at work.

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TVNZ
Bill Toomey described the post-quake scene at the PGC building in February 2011 as "horrific".

"ACC is seeking leave to appeal decision because they want to clarify the law in this area," ACC spokesman James Funnell said.

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* Injured worker left in agony after being denied ACC funding for finishing his shift
* Hawke's Bay couple win eight-year ACC battle
* Health care: Out of reach - declined for surgery by both ACC and the health board
* Radiation victim calls ACC 'scumbags' as compensation saga drags on

Toomey said news of the appeal brought his world crashing down again.

1495014353951.jpg
Bill Toomey won a case against ACC to cover his PTSD treatment after he volunteered to help rescue people during the earthquakes. ACC is now appealing the court decision.

"I've gone from a high two-and-a half-weeks ago to wanting to punch somebody. Rightly or wrongly, that's how I feel."

He felt his recovery had been set back, he said.

"It was getting better because of the help I've had and this has just knocked it back, well and truly."

After the court decision was released on April 28, a case manager called to see what help they could offer him.

About two days later, the assistance was subject to an appeal.

"I honestly now I think they are just afraid . . . 'oh heck, if we look after Bill who else are we going to have to look after'. . . it shouldn't be about the money."

Lawyer Louise Newman said a judge would consider if there was grounds for an appeal. The process could take up to three months.

ACC argued Toomey was not entitled to cover as he was not working at the time of the earthquake.

It might be concerned his case would set a precedent and other volunteer workers would make claims, she said.

In Toomey's case, emergency services asked him to help rescue people immediately after the earthquake happened because he had specialist skills as a builder.

"He went down there with the intention of volunteering to help out where he could, but the only reason he was taken in to the building itself was because they asked if anyone had building experience in order to help them with that," Newman said.

Under the ACC Act, the definition of employment involved pecuniary gain, but Newman said Toomey was able to set his own terms of employment, including where and when he worked, as he was self-employed.

- Stuff
http://www.stuff.co....raumatic-stress


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