On call: Emergency workers are seeking a change to legislation that would offer increased access to mental health supports for all first responders and emergency service workers.

Petition designed to help emergency workers

Drive: Seeking better access to mental health services

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 that wants 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.

The group 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 protections 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 run-around of defining whether they have a legitimate claim.”

Devine worked for 32 years as a paramedic in both rural and urban areas of the province, and has his own experience with PTSD. He was routinely dealing with high stress and traumatic situations, including being one of the first responders to the scene where nine members of the Gakhal and Saran families were gunned down by the husband of Rajwar Gakhal in Vernon on April 5, 1996.

“People were hiding,  no one knew where the shooter was, it was chaos… As a first responder you learn to put away your emotions and keep them in a bucket inside you, but one day my bucket overflowed,” said Devine.

Devine and others involved in the cause have garnered significant support. On Sept. 24,  the Union of BC Municipalities passed unanimously a resolution supporting a Presumptive Clause for First Responders in BC.

Still in the organizational stages, Devine plans to visit malls and other public places in Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm and Vernon with copies of the petition. You can learn more about the petition at:  www.youarenotaloneptsdbc.ca.

 

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

Just Posted

Hiker finds body of dead man in Blind Bay park

Salmon Arm RCMP determine cause of death not suspicious

Morning Start: Canada Has a Completely Indoor Town

Your morning start for Tuesday Sept. 29, 2020

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Downtown Salmon Arm cancels Halloween Treat Trail

First time in 30 years community event won’t be taking place

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Motorcycle rider identified following fatal crash in Peachland

Michael Odenbach died in a motorcycle collision on Sept. 27

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Most Read