Paramedics comforted by support available for PTSD

Watch above: It’s Paramedics Services Week in Saskatchewan and is affording officials the opportunity to highlight how far support services have come when it comes to dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Aaron Streck finds out how much of an issue the disorder is among first responders.

SASKATOON – When you hear a screaming siren and see the flashing lights, it’s usually a matter of life and death.

“It’s the ultimate way in my mind to serve the public and serve others,” said MD Ambulance primary care paramedic David Kopperud.

Kopperud has been a primary care paramedic for the last year and joined MD Ambulance last week.

“We do get called to things that are tough to see and tough to leave at work and not take home to your friends and your family,” said Kopperud.

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With a growing population, there’s no downtime for paramedics. MD Ambulance’s call volume jumped by 2,000 last year and 17 new staff have been hired in the last three months to try to ease the load.

“We had seen that across Canada where we’ve had paramedics take their lives and a lot of it had to do with stressers on the job,” said MD Ambulance spokesperson Troy Davies.

READ MORE: Woman aims to march across 3 provinces for PTSD awareness

Jennifer Chouinard isn’t a paramedic but working in the crisis and trauma unit at Royal University Hospital, she understands what first responders go through. She was diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in February and has been facilitating a support group since.

“Connecting with people, finding things we have in common, finding that we’ve come up against the same struggles, that’s been really helpful,” said Chouinard.

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Paramedic Services Week affords the opportunity to highlight just how far support for paramedics dealing with PTSD has come.

“The attitude might have been you suck it up and you keep going and that’s part of the job,” said Kopperud.

“It’s awareness and being healthy and healthy minds, healthy bodies and we’re really working with our staff to make sure that not only are they having the opportunities to be successful at work but at home after work as well,” said Davies.

“It is very comforting knowing that when you go through those experiences and some of those challenging calls there is that support,” said Kopperud.

While it has been around for years, it’s only recently PTSD has been given a name and supports will only get stronger as more and more people recognize the signs.

Paramedic Services Week runs until May 30. As part of the week, EMTs took a bit of a breather Wednesday to spend some time with kids and show them the ropes of the job.

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