The rise of PTSD continues to grow for people working on the front lines and that’s why a new rehabilitation centre is coming to help with first responders’ mental health. Queens Park and Ottawa are delivering a million dollars each to Runnymede healthcare centre to build two facilities and some in the industry believe it’s a huge step forward to bringing needed services.
Trying to save someone who was stabbed or witnessing the aftermath of a fatal crash is one of many experiences that can bring post-traumatic stress and according to the Ontario government, roughly 13,000 workers in police, fire, paramedics and other frontline staff are going through it.
Retired York Region firefighter Rob Leathen says he was diagnosed with PTSD and left the service in 2019 after nearly thirty years on the job. Now he’s working with ‘Boots on the Ground’ an anonymous helpline for first responders. “There are many first responders who have PTSD and haven’t reached out for help and are suffering in silence,” Rob says feelings like anxiety and depression could arise from one or repeated experiences whether they see it or even hear it. “In my case, I’ve been to thousands of calls over my career, there were five that were very problematic for me.”
The Ford government says itself and Ottawa will plunge two million dollars to help build two rehabilitation facilities for first responders experiencing post-traumatic injuries a first in Canada.
Premier Doug Ford says first responders are two times more likely than the average person to develop PTSD on the job. Ford says, “they must have a safe environment, staffed by professionals who understand them and deliver help with no judgment.”
The Runnymede healthcare centre says construction facilities in Toronto and Caledon will be completed by late 2024. Mayram Traub develops mental health programs for staff at Niagara ems and says even before the pandemic, post-trauma experiences were common. She says she is collaborating with provincial paramedic officials in developing a centralized database built for workers in emergency response. “I think this is a long-overdue step and I’m glad to see it come to fruition.”
Traub says the online resource is expected to launch by the end of the year.