PEI

1st responder PTSD too common, says paramedic

A first responder on PEI is organizing monthly meetings for paramedics to talk about stress on the job.

A first responder on P.E.I. is organizing monthly meetings for paramedics to talk about stress on the job.

Mark Creamer has been a paramedic on the Island for 13 years, and he is finding more colleagues are off the job being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Creamer said there is critical incident debriefing for first responders after major incidents, but some of his colleagues are showing the strain of years of responding to difficult calls.

"There's a bit of that culture of, in EMS and first responders in general, where we don't need help.That sort of suck it up and deal with it.  Push it under a rug.  This is the job and if you can't do the job, well, maybe you're not in the right profession,” he said.

“I don't think that's fair to a lot of people. I think it's a very difficult job at times, so I think it's reasonable to expect that some people may have difficulties with it.”

Creamer said critical incident debriefing is important, but often it is the cumulative effect of many calls that may not seem particularly significant, but have a personal impact on first responders.

Creamer has set up group sessions in Prince County and Charlottetown for paramedics to share their experiences. The first meetings will happen later this month.

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