Paul Wagman said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the struggles that first responders face in their everyday lives, and he hopes the development of a PTSD respite centre will help these workers and their families gain the support they need.
“The shining spotlight of COVID-19 has broadened this all across the country and the world, that we need to take care of ourselves and be well, so that’s what we’re promoting,” Wagman said in an interview with 770 CHQR.
“We can reach people who don’t know what they’re experiencing and don’t have the resiliency to deal with trauma, so they can reach out and see that there are people there offering a variety of things from Aboriginal wellness… to equine therapy.”
The respite centre is operated out of the Wine Glass Ranch in Cochrane, Alta. Wagman said the owners of the land donated the area for the wellness retreat to be developed.
Now, the centre is looking for donations to help update the facility.
“We’re trying to accomplish our first phase of raising $50,000 to give this building a face-lift,” Wagman said.
“Then we can move to the second phase — providing the services and the wellness to help responders and, more importantly, their families.”
Wagman said the PTSD centre is focused around peer support and hopes to develop specialized therapy programs and services, including a sensory room, group yoga and cultural and spiritual healing activities.
The final phase the centre is looking to implement is the creation of socially supportive activities, including trail walks, horseback rides and fly fishing.
The centre will see first responders volunteer their time to share their experiences and create a community of support for other first responders to better address and heal from their PTSD-related traumas.
“It’s the most unique angle that we’re trying to present, coming from peers, not just in your own field of work, but all emergency responders,” Wagman said.
“There’s a sense of camaraderie — we are together.”