Spotlight on First Responders

It comes as no surprise to anyone in disaster management that emergency responders have a tough job. This issue of the eGUIDE takes a look at some of the realities faced in the field today by those on the front line.

An article from British Columbia-based The Province discussed the growing problem of suicide cases amongst first responders — in the past year alone, 39 reported cases across Canada, according to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, and 13 of those within the province. Writer Michael Smyth spoke to representatives from WorkSafeBC, an informational body that provides injury and illness prevention resources and workplace health and safety information, about the challenges faced by first responders attempting claims for PTSD. According to the article, in late February, British Columbia NDP MLA Shane Simpson introduced a private member’s bill in the legislature “calling for PTSD among first responders to be considered a ‘presumptive condition’ under worker-compensation law. It would mean that if a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD, it would be automatically assumed to be an occupational illness unless proven to the contrary by WorkSafe.”

In Ontario, an article written by Gord Young in The Nugget detailed similar efforts in Ontario to get PTSD labeled as a presumptive condition. “The proposed new law – Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act – will create a presumption that PTSD in first responders is work-related, removing the need for them to prove a causal link to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board,” wrote Young.

Ontario Paramedic Association president Geoff McBride told EMSWorld: “It is no secret that first responders have a higher incidence of PTSD and we must take the proper steps to prevent and treat those that need it.”