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Paramedic association troubled by $4K cost of trauma course

The Paramedic Association of New Brunswick is concerned the cost and the time commitment will put a new course on trauma resilience at the University of New Brunswick out of reach for paramedics.

UNB launching program aimed at helping first responders deal with traumatic events

Phil Comeau of the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick wonders would will pay the cost of a $4,000 UNB course aimed at building trauma resilience for first responders. (Twitter)

The Paramedic Association of New Brunswick is concerned the cost and the time commitment will put a new course on trauma resilience at the University of New Brunswick out of reach for paramedics.

The course is aimed at first responders and costs $4,000. It is taught in modules over seven months.

Not one of them can afford a $4,000 course.- Phil Comeau, Paramedic Association of New Brunswick

"We're concerned with the cost and time to complete the course," said Phil Comeau, president of the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick.

"With around 1,200 paramedics in New Brunswick, who is going to fund it?" he said.

"Twenty-five per cent of the population of first responders have mental health issues," he said. "Not one of them can afford a $4,000 course."

UNB held a session Wednesday to try and convince decision-makers the course can make a difference.

Province tries to meet needs

Corporate wellness consultant Roger Duval said the provincial government is trying to meet the needs of its employees.

"Ambulance N.B. is an area, we also deal with a few issues with correctional officers through the department of Public Safety on a fairly regular basis," he said.

"We're trying to make it supportive for them in term of listening, and programs like the Employee and Family Assistance Program, and other potential initiatives like some of these courses, hopefully will be able to make a difference."

Canadian military Capt. Michael Hobson said he will pay for the trauma resilience course at UNB out of his own pocket. (CBC)
Capt. Michael Hobson of the Canadian military is signing up for the course and will pay for it himself.

Hobson is working through his own post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour in Afghanistan, but has another reason for taking the course.

"I had a friend I went through basic training with who committed suicide," said Hobson. "We all knew he had PTSD and wondered, if one of us — and maybe it is survivor's guilt, if you want to call it that —I always wonder if there was anything I could have done to him that would have helped him."

Eastern philosophies, Western neuroscience

Course creator Ruth Lamb is a former critical care nurse in British Columbia.

Former critical care nurse Ruth Lamb of British Columbia designed a course being offered at the University of New Brunswick on trauma resilience. (CBC)
"I think we're offering a link to the Eastern philosophies and the latest Western neuroscience in our program.

Topics in the course's modules range from from strategies for breathing, to managing the nervous system.

"Right now we have people who are hurting, and really having difficult challenges in their life coping, and want to be professional, want their career and want to enjoy their life," said Lamb.

They're in trouble, so they're spending money to change.- Ruth Lamb, course creator

"They're in trouble, so they're spending money to change. Ideally we're going to do this for people prior to coming into first responder careers."

Fredericton police and military personnel are offered the Canadian Mental Health program Road to Mental Readiness.

Next week the New Brunswick government will be training trainers in that program for paramedics, flight nurses and dispatchers.

With files from Catherine Harrop