Letter: Spouse of Shuswap first responder shares challenges, gratitude

One in three first responders suffer in silence, resources available to help them and their families

Many people have their opinion on our volunteer first responders (firefighters, highway rescue technicians, RCMSAR crew), but few understand that to these courageous volunteers it’s not a fun hobby or just something to do when your bored.

There are late nights, early mornings, missing out on many things including a warm meal with family. That pager goes off and their life ceases to be theirs, family plans get pushed off, celebrations stop; they could be warm and snuggled in bed one moment and running out the door the next.

Read More: Shuswap fire departments gear up for annual toy and food drives

Read More: Salmon Arm chosen for suicide prevention study

Now it may sound that I’m a bitter person but, on the contrary, I’m one of the spouses left at home when the pager goes off. I have heard grumbling about the sirens or the road being closed. People need to realize these volunteers switching on the sirens and holding up traffic are the same volunteers that may have to save your life from that crumpled car, or put out the fire at your home.

These men and women don’t make money for the most part – there are no benefits or sick pay. They do it for the love of helping others. These volunteers do an unbelievable amount of training and studying so they can do their best for the person in need, but most first responders still have jobs to pay the bills. On occasion, they are able to leave work when the pager goes off, but that often means loss of wages.

Loss of pay isn’t the only thing they have to worry about. Many first responders experience burn out, depression, post-traumatic stress, suicide, or turn to substance use. Not so long ago, all these things were overlooked and ignored.

Read More: Man gets 18 months jail for dealing heroin, fentanyl in Vernon

Read More: Teen developed ‘popcorn lung’ due to vaping: Ontario doctors

One in three first responders suffer in silence, but with a growing willingness to access help, things are finally starting to change. Resources are becoming accessible not only for first responders but also for their families.

First responders are our saviours, the people that are there for us at the worst possible moment. They are the calm, cool, collected person that know what to do when we need them, and rushes to the rescue at the sound of the pager.

To all the wonderful men and women working as first responders, thank you for all you do.

Elizabeth Shaw


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Transport truck driver ticketed after rear-ending semi, closing Highway 1 in Shuswap

Truck catches fire, Chase RCMP ticket man for following too closely

Automated phone scam targets Shuswap residents

Scammers may be spoofing a local number and claiming they are with the CRA

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read