Survey shows paramedics in need of more mental health help

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Just a few days after an organization highlighted the number of police officers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, BC’s paramedics have released results of a survey revealing the extent of the disorder among their members.

Among the findings, about a third of respondents have considered suicide. More than 90 per cent need support for the cumulative impact of multiple traumatic calls over their careers.

“This was a real eye-opener for us. It’s sad,” remarks Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC.

She says because everyone is unique, what generates long-lasting stress differs from person to person.

“Everyone has a different triggers for their own personal mental health injuries and PTSD. What may impact one paramedic may be different for another paramedic or dispatcher.”

She believes the problem with the current legislation which determines who gets time off for PTSD is that the diagnosis has to be associated with a specific traumatic incident.

She explains that mental health injuries such as depression and anger develop after years of dealing with traumatic events.

“There needs a broader range of mental health injuries or illnesses for which paramedics receive support.”

She says there’s a misconception that paramedics should be able to handle all the trauma they deal with on a daily basis.

“We are being told that ‘You should be able to see this stuff. It’s a normal part of your job’ when it really isn’t.”

And she points out that even dispatchers suffer from mental health injuries due to their work, as they take the calls and walk people through difficult situations.

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