Ambulance New Brunswick president and CEO Alan Stephen says work is being done to identify first responders who are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and to provide treatment.
Stephen says he also has concerns about mental illness among first responders.
Fredericton firefighter Jeff Mack is calling on the provincial government to recognize that first responders in New Brunswick need a treatment program for PTSD.
Mack says he knows of three paramedics in the Fredericton area who have killed themselves in the past two years.
Stephen says mental health services are provided to anyone who comes forward and supervisors receive training so they know how to begin conversations with employees who might be struggling."I'm not sure that I would use the word common," Stephen said. "It's out there, there are people that suffer from it."
"The challenge is a lot of the people, when they start feeling the effects of mental illness, because of the social stigma don't come out and say anything so we need to get the message out—don't suffer alone."
Stephen says Ambulance New Brunswick recognizes that its employees have to be at their best in some of the most difficult situations imaginable, and says those traumatic experiences can have a very real impact on the physical and emotional well being of employees.
'When something happens to an employee of our organization we reach out to the individual, to their families, to their colleagues and make sure they know what's available.' - Ambulance NB CEO Alan Stephen
He says a system is in place at Ambulance New Brunswick which includes peer-to-peer support and free one-on-one counselling services which are available 24 hours per day.
Stephen says mental illness among paramedics is something that is being tracked although he would not comment on the numbers.
"When something happens to an employee of our organization we reach out to the individual, to their families, to their colleagues and make sure they know what's available."