Paramedic’s suicide highlights need for first responder support
Paramedic Robbie Curtis was an 18-year paramedic veteran who was awarded a medal for bravery and remembered for his big heart
By EMS1 Staff
SASKATCHEWAN, Canada —A paramedic who died by suicide last week highlighted a need for more mental support, according to advocates.
The Leader Post reported 18-year veteran paramedic Robbie Curtis died by suicide Aug. 22.
Curtis’ family said he was a “free-spirited adventurer” who lived life to the fullest.
“He never needed a bucket list because everything he would have put on it, he just went out and did,” Curtis’ sister, Candice Curle, said.
Curtis received the Chief’s Commendation Award from the Regina Police Service after rushing to help a police officer with a suspect who was trying to escape while he was off duty.
“We had to force him to go to the ceremony,” Curle said. “He was very humble. He didn’t feel like (the award) was necessary.”
First responder advocates say Curtis’ death highlights a lack of support for paramedics’ mental health, according to CTV News.
"There is a way that we can change this. We got to make more clinically-facilitated, trauma-based mental health programs available,” Wounded Warriors Canada Executive Director Scott Maxwell said.
Saskatchewan College of Paramedics Executive Director Jacquie Messer-Lepage said the public needs to accept that being exposed to trauma is an injury.
"There's no opportunity for them to prepare for what they're about to see, and I think they're exposed to trauma unlike any other medical profession because of that,” she said. “I think there are opportunities to provide support; I think that society in general needs to start seeing people that are exposed to trauma as wounded.”
Federal Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said the government is working on a national plan to address mental health issues.