Fire and EMS in Windsor-Essex partner with Wounded Warriors for mental health

Essex-Windsor EMS, LaSalle Police and Fire will have access to innovative programs by Wounded Warriors Canada, which address mental wellness.

There are eight core programs offered through Wounded Warriors Canada for front line responders

LaSalle police and fire officials joins Essex-Windsor EMS personnel in the red epaulette awareness campaign as part of Wounded Warriors Canada. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

First responders with Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services and LaSalle police and fire services will have more access to mental health and wellness resources going forward.

The groups partnered with Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC), a group that provides "access to innovative programs promoting mental wellness," according to a news release.

There are eight core programs offered by the organization, from residential trauma therapy to resiliency training.

Bruce Krauter, chief of Essex-Windsor EMS, said there are staff who have taken advantage of the programs.

"The trauma varies from day to day, from call to call," he said.

Scott Maxwell says having these formal partnerships will hopefully further open up access to services for responders. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Krauter gave examples of that trauma.

Sometimes responders are exposed to a traumatic car accident, and other times they are dealing with palliative care at work — when at home they are taking care of a family member in a similar setting.

Even though WWC programs are already available to first responders, executive director of WWC Scott Maxwell said having a formal working relationship will help more people access those services.

"The first responder world can be dealing with trauma everyday, but it can also be one of the most trauma-uninformed workplaces, which is an interesting dynamic," said Maxwell.

The Canadian Mental Health Association is also partnering with WWC to share training opportunities.

Essex-Windsor EMS and LaSalle police and fire personnel will also wear red epaulettes on their shoulders on Friday, to support the WWC's Red Epaulette campaign.

Essex-Windsor EMS was the first EMS service in Canada to support the campaign.

Bruce Krauter, left, and Dave Sutton say EMS and fire first responders are exposed to wide ranging types of trauma in their work. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

In LaSalle, fire chief Dave Sutton said the call volume for the municipality is over 400 a year. Even though they are not all traumatic for responders, the effects can vary depending on the person.

"It's not always the headline grabbing major traumas that cause different people some difficulties," he said.

The services and programs offered through WWC will help keep the members healthy, Sutton said, which will help them lead a lengthier career as well.

"We're not immune and our members do occasionally need assistance," said Sutton.

With files from Dale Molnar


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