Paramedics use peer support group to tackle PTSD

Each day, one paramedic checks in with their colleagues to provide psychological first aid

By EMS1 Staff

EAST GWILLIMBURY, Ont. — A paramedic service is using  a peer support program  to tackle mental health problems within their own ranks.

York Region Paramedic Services established a peer support team that sends a responder out on each shift to check on their colleagues. The support team aims to prevent and battle mental health problems like stress and PTSD.

“I had no idea just how many members actually felt unsupported and how much difficulty members were having in silence until the peer support team was in place,” Chief Norm Barrette told RDNewsNow.

Each day, one paramedic checks in with colleagues to provide psychological first aid. The peer support team  has  20 members .

“What I’m seeing happening at York paramedic services is an internal resiliency,” paramedic David Whitley said. 

Chief Barrette said the increase in the number of personnel who seek help from the  program is proof it’s working. 

“There had been a silent void for all of these years that these members were trying to figure out on their own,” Chief Barrette said. 

Last year, 19 paramedics in Ontario died by suicide, which was more than military members, police officers, firefighters and correctional workers. 

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