A proposal presented this week at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipality Association’s conference to collect a levy from every resident in the province to provide mental health support for volunteer firefighters was burned up in a vote.
The levy would have taken 50 cents from every Saskatchewan resident to build a trust fund for mental health supports. Melfort Fire Chief Paul See is the only career firefighter on the city department. He was also the chief at Waskesiu, a full-time volunteer organization. He said said supports are needed in their line of work.
“Some of the things we see aren’t pleasant, it’s not an everyday thing,” he told northeastNOW. “Sometimes you deal with injured kids. That’s tough on people especially if you are a parent.”
See said the department did work with the former Kelsey Trail Health Region whuch would bring in professional help to assist fire fighters in coping after fatal motor vehicle collisions or fires. Since the inception of the new Saskatchewan Health Authority a new plan with the provincial health department hasn't been identified. The Saskatchewan Volunteer Firefighter’s Association has launched a team of members creating the critical incident stress management and debriefing (CISM) committee. See said since the inception of that group's 35 interventions have taken place for volunteer firefighters across the province.
He said working in smaller centres like Melfort and Waskesiu, there’s more chances a victim will be known to the members causing more trauma.
“The thing with us, sometimes you are going to know the person you are going to. If you are a career firefighter in Saskatoon it’s a different story. Here you have connections with people in the community and that makes it tough,” See said.
Patty Stewart McCord is the coordinator for CISM, she said funding is needed for the program to continue to help deal with post traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s a huge program and we continue to build it. We need funding to back what needs to happen and it’s very important to secure extra funding any way we can get it,” McCord said.
Despite not securing the funding, McCord and See were both pleased with the awareness the discussion created among the municipalities and provincial leaders.
On Twitter: @ClarkStork
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