Firefighters, paramedics, emergency dispatchers, and law enforcement officers experience traumas and stressors on the job that are unlike those seen in most other occupations. It’s not surprising, therefore, that recent research has shown that these workers are at higher risk of mental health injuries. The agencies that employ first responders are tasked with how to best support their mental health – from determining appropriate training for first responders and their managers, to sourcing occupationally aware practitioners, to aiding with recovery and hope through peer support. Currently, there are many approaches but no central inventory of resources or best practices that allow for sharing of knowledge, resources, and training across first responder agencies. It is this reality that in December 2015 led to the formation of the B.C. First Responders Mental Health Committee – a multi-agency committee representing labour and management from both urban and rural communities. Chaired by WorkSafeBC, the committee is working collaboratively to provide cross-organizational leadership and recommend practices that promote positive mental health for first responders across the province.
The mission of the Committee is to actively promote positive mental health and provide the leadership, best practices (resources, awareness, education, training, and supports) that first responders, their communities, and leaders need.
The goals of the Committee are to:
- Inspire first responder leadership to recognize and support mental health in the workplace
- Create and promote anti-stigma messaging and strategies in first responder organizations
- Research, share and promote current best practices and relevant studies to support positive mental health among first responders
- Develop resources for employers, supervisors, workers and family members to support mental health in the workplace
- Provide educational opportunities for employers, supervisors, workers and family members to support mental health in the workplace
- Support allied first responder organizations such as occupationally aware practitioners and first responder treatment providers
- Foster a community of first responders and first responder organizations that champion mental health
Members of the Committee
The first responders on the Committee include labour/management, paid/volunteer, urban/rural and First Nations from police, fire fighters, and ambulance and emergency dispatch services:
- Law Enforcement: BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police, BC Police Association, Canada Border Services, RCMP.
- Fire Fighters: BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, Fire Chief’s Association of BC, Greater Vancouver Fire Chiefs, Volunteer Firefighters Association of BC.
- Ambulance: Ambulance Paramedics of BC, BC Emergency Health Services.
- Emergency Dispatch: E-Comm 9-1-1, Emergency Communications Professionals of BC
- First Nations: First Nations Emergency Services.
For further information on the Committee, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.