Norm Gale says the workplace culture at Superior North EMS is changing to accept mental health issues from dealing with stress.
Being a paramedic isn’t easy.
And for a long time, dealing with the stress of seeing daily trauma simply meant keeping quiet and acting tough.
“It’s not uncommon for a paramedic to be the last person somebody speaks to and it can happen sometimes even a couple of times in a day,” Superior North EMS paramedic Rob Moquin said.
“It was a lot of keep a stiff upper lip and trudge along humbly. That’s not the way to do things anymore.”
To deal with wellness issues related to difficult calls, CAW Local 229 members and management from EMS have agreed to get together a committee to figure out how best to help those paramedics who may have mental health issues like post traumatic stress disorder.
“We don’t’ know exactly where we’re going so we’ve struck this joint committee to sort of build something that will suit our needs,“ EMS chief Norm Gale said.
“Being a paramedic is a difficult job. Being a first responder and responding to calls where nasty things happen to good people weighs on you.”
The committee will focus on prevention of stress but also how best to help those veteran paramedics who may have chronic, long-term issues.
Gale said it represents a change in workplace culture he’s seen. Everyone accepts a physical injury as part of the job that has to be taken care of but for a long time, mental health issues weren’t acceptable.
“Part of being a paramedic is being tough and just dealing with it. Now we have a realization, now we have an acceptance that it’s more than just being tough and being tough means accepting that these things aren’t easy and it’s OK to be troubled by some of the things that you see and you deal with,” Gale said.
Gale said he doesn’t expect to incur any additional costs as a result of the initiative.
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