Oak Bay News
Apr. 28, 2018
“The one thing we’re not prepared for is how this job will effect you,” Savoia said, emphasizing a need for more pre-incident training. “PTSD strikes when you least expect it.”
Emergency responders carry a man to an awaiting ambulance after being extricated from his pickup truck, one of two vehicles involved in a collision along Highway 97B in Salmon Arm (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer file)
Big Read: Industry leaders call for more pre-incident training
They’re first on scene and there when you need them.
But for public service members who dedicate themselves to helping others, sometimes the biggest challenge is taking care of themselves.
It’s a lesson Michael Swainson learned the hard way.
“A lot of people suffer in silence … First responders put everybody else first – that’s the nature of the beast – we’re really shitty at taking care of ourselves.”
Swainson worked in the Yukon for 25 years as a paramedic, emergency medical services supervisor and dispatch supervisor, firefighter, professional ski patroller, and a disaster trainer and evaluator. As a paramedic alone, he went on roughly 6,000 calls in Whitehorse. For that area it was normal. If he had been working somewhere like Vancouver, he said that number could have easily been double.
“For first responders it’s a conveyor belt of trauma, eventually you run out of coping strategies,” Swainson said.
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