Helping First Responders Release Their Pain

According to Global News, at least four Canadian first responders have committed suicide since the beginning of this year. The data comes from the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an organization which also reports 34 first responders have killed themselves since April 29, 2014.

Emergency personnel in Canada appear to be in crisis. So what is being done to help?

According to another Global News article, training in recognizing mental heal issues is minimal for emergency responders. This excerpt elaborates:

Mental health support for first responders varies depending on where you live, according to Dwayne Forsman, who represents the Paramedic Association of Canada.

Toronto Emergency Medical Services – the largest EMS service in the country – is the only service that provides its frontline workers with a dedicated staff psychologist, for example.

Other health authorities filter their first responders in need to the regional mental health professionals, but they may not understand the intricacies involved with their line of work, Forsman said.

One unique way people are trying to help is through art. According to Global News, Teresa Coulter, an artist and emergency medical technician (EMT) in Calgary, Alberta is providing a safe studio environment to paint portraits of emergency personnel who are dealing with emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Together they are finding strength in their courage as a group and are making an effort to let go of their pain through the paintings.

Though the collection isn’t open to the public yet, Coulter wants to display the paintings in a gallery at some point to help break the stigma and stereotypes that surround PTSD.

More and more people are coming forward about their tough experiences, describing their PTSD, and unfortunately, there’s also still a growing number of first responder suicides. In response, the Ontario government is going to hold a summit to determine what needs to be done to help. It will be held March 5. The idea for the summit came after a report released in October offered 14 recommendations on the issue.


For more information, see the referenced articles here: