Police and EMS officials in Calgary are working to ensure that the first responders to this week’s multiple fatal knife stabbings receive plenty of support to cope with the trauma.
Paramedics who were called to the house in Brentwood early Tuesday morning to find three fatally stabbed young people and two more in critical condition — who later died — were shaken by what they saw at the crime scene, said EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux.
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"It's certainly something that will stay with the staff for a very long time,” he said.
Matthew de Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura.
Police Chief Rick Hanson told the media on Tuesday that the crime scene was “tremendously impactful on the members.”
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“This is the worst mass murder in Calgary's history. We have never seen five people killed by one person at one scene."
Brideaux said there were about eight EMS responders directly involved in the incident and those staff can access a 24-hour critical incident stress management program.
"These are paramedics who help other paramedics work through some of the things they may have to contend with on the job,” he said.
The police force also has resources available to officers affected by the incident, said Calgary Police Association president Howard Burns.
"We actually have a peer support network in place and those are fellow officers that have had specialized training in relation to dealing with traumatic events."
Burns said if traumatic events such as the Brentwood stabbings are not addressed appropriately at the time, first responders can wind up suffering years later from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other stress-related illnesses.
"In the past there was that stigmatism that police are expected to be the strong individuals and that we don't need help. We're all human and everyone needs help on occasion,” Burns said.
The fact that the sole suspect in the killings is the son of veteran police officer, Insp. Doug de Grood, makes it even more challenging for members of the force, Burns added.
"Himself and his family are devastated by what happened. This is a long-standing, long-serving member of CPS," he said.
"He's well known and well-respected among the rank and file, and for this to happen to him is just sad."