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2014-08-13 at 16:44

Facing trauma

Thunder Bay Police Association president Greg Stephenson
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Thunder Bay Police Association president Greg Stephenson
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By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY --  First responders aren't immune to the trauma they see.

As early as just five years ago there wasn't the support there is today for fire fighters, police officers and paramedics to deal with the calls they respond to like Monday's homicide that left an eight-year-old girl dead.

"Monday was terrible," Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale said. "This was a difficult call. The very circumstances, a child involved, is particularly difficult.

"It's not normal to see some of the things that they see."

While Gale couldn't comment on the specifics of that day, paramedics on scene have been offered counselling and the Superior North EMS has even designed its new headquarters to try and help deal with the aftermath of difficult calls to try and keep staff mentally healthy.

"It's no different than being physically fit," Gale said.

A traumatic scene could have a severe impact on a first responder just days after the incident. But for some, as Thunder Bay Police Association president Greg Stephenson explains, the burden could mentally suffocate an officers two decades from now.

Stephenson still remembers every moment of a call he responded to 17 years ago involving an infant.

"Every officer handles it in a different way," Stephenson said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a big issue for the force and the department is doing the best it can to help officers.

Stephenson said he offers condolences to the families of all victims of homicide in the city. A child makes it more difficult, imagining all the potential she had.

"A lot of us have young kids at home so it affects people probably more," he said.


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Comments

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bubba says:
I don't envy any of them at all. Not even the pay cheques. BUT. That's what you sign up for when you take the job. I don't know how cops can control themselves.
8/13/2014 8:23:20 PM
tiredofit says:
Totally agree. Sadly though they there are still all those trolls out there who will continue to bash all three positions regardless. I for one am proud of the work they all do in this city, I can't fathom what they must go through when something like this happens. It also goes beyond situations such as Mondays incident, even all the small things can eventually take there toll.

Thanks to all th men and women in uniform for all they do. In cass like this they don't get paid enough.
8/14/2014 7:22:05 AM
caesarjbasquitti says:
Historically 'victimization' was often isolated to the individual, however as noted in this article the real victims include a spectrum of individuals who must deal with these issues.

The current police chief was quoted correctly saying that we should stop with these half-truths, and begin focusing on the causes to avoid these incidents in the future.

Prevention is the best of cures !!!

8/13/2014 11:36:23 PM
Joey_J says:
Good to hear the leadership is being proactive and putting support in place. Recently an RCMP officer who was one of the first to the scene of the Greyhound murder a few years ago committed suicide. I would hate for this tragedy to grow legs and see further loss of life.
8/14/2014 9:00:58 AM
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