First responders struggle with PTSD

While suicides of soldiers battling post-traumatic stress disorder have captured news headlines recently, there are calls to help paramedics and other first responders who also struggle with PTSD.

Ambulance New Brunswick refuses to comment on suicides of three paramedics in Fredericton area

While suicides of soldiers battling post-traumatic stress disorder have captured news headlines recently, there are calls to help paramedics and other first responders who also struggle with PTSD.

In the last two years, three paramedics in the Fredericton area have killed themselves.

Firefighter Jeff Mack (CBC)
Ambulance New Brunswick refused to comment on the suicides or even say whether it tracks the numbers.

"Out of respect for our employees, their families and their privacy, Ambulance New Brunswick will not share details about an off-duty paramedic death," stated spokesperson Tracy Bell in an email.

Fredericton firefighter Jeff Mack says post-traumatic stress disorder is rampant among all first responders.

"There's times when it's simply tragic and traumatic and at the end of our shift, whether we're career or volunteer, we take that home," said Mack.

The Tema Conter Memorial Trust is a foundation that was founded by Vince Savoia and advocates for better mental health support for emergency service workers.

Savoia says most employers don't even want to talk about the issue, but says someone would be tracking the numbers.

Savoia believes there's at least one suicide every month among first responders in the country.

"So it could be as high as a quarter of our front line responders are dealing with PTSD at any given time," he said.

The province says there is a program to help front line workers with PTSD, but Mack — who is part of that program — says it's just aimed at preventing PTSD and not helping those already crippled by it.

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