Working on the front lines of emergency service, as a paramedic, firefighter, police officer, first responder or dispatcher, is inherently a stressful job.
Don Devine, a retired paramedic who now lives in Scotch Creek, is part of an effort to have this notion recognized in legislation, so that front-line emergency workers can have easier access to treatment and counselling to deal with the stresses from their work, be it paid or volunteer.
He’ll be set up in the Mall at Piccadilly to collect signatures on Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Devine is petitioning for a “presumptive clause” to be added to WorkSafe BC and other legislation. This means that it is automatically presumed that a person with this type of job is at risk for mental-health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, and can access treatment immediately rather than having to prove their claim is legitimate.
“Even though things have improved, we want more protection for people who have a mental health injury. With jobs like these, it can be one traumatic event that can trigger an issue, or a lot of little things that can get you, but the results can be the same – depression, withdrawal, anger, exhaustion,” says Devine. “These are our first responders and they deserve immediate care and financial assistance, not going through a runaround of defining whether they have a legitimate claim.”
Devine and others involved in the cause have also garnered some significant support. On Sept. 24, the Union of BC Municipalities unanimously passed a resolution supporting a presumptive clause for first responders in B.C.
Devine also plans to visit malls and other public places in Chase, Sorrento and Vernon with copies of the petition, and hopes that when people see him, they will add their names to the effort. You can learn more about the issue at: www.youarenotaloneptsdbc.ca.