Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


April 2016

Walk for Suicide Awareness

Come out and join me on May 28th in Barrie, Ontario for the Walk for Suicide Awareness!

So grateful to be sharing a message of hope at the beginning of the walk.

Get your pledge forms at

Bill 163: Ontario Supporting First Responder’s Bill

Bill 163

April 5th, 2016 will always be a day to remember! Seven years of fighting by SO MANY amazing people (of which I was only part of for 2 years) for the recognition of the toll our careers take on our mental health. There’s LOTS more work to be done.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article in the Canadian Paramedicine magazine documenting the time line of the PTSD Bill’s past seven years, and of the fight that Toronto Advanced Care Paramedic Shannon Bertrand so bravely started so that April 5th, 2016 could one day become a reality.


Thank you to the Barrie Examiner


Wings of Change in the News

woc pic

A huge thank you to Fire Fighting Canada for this wonderful post in their magazine!

Maria Church | Assistant Editor
Fire Fighting in Canada | Canadian Firefighter

Giving’s Ulterior Motive


I’m a fan of a good egg salad sandwich. And I’m willing to bet that the best egg salad sandwiches are found at a baby shower. You know the kind – cut into triangles, often crustless, made with mayo…not miracle-whip. Yup! Those are the ones! So in the interest of enjoying ‘said’ sandwiches, I am often willing to shell out an average of $100 at Babies R’Us to fit into the baby shower crowd. You know the kind – often early thirties, mom’s themselves, happy to have several hours set aside to drink wine without their own kids crying in the background. Yup! Those are the ones!

So, where is this blog going you’re asking? No, I’m not about to share a Pinterest board of sandwich recipes and photos of the cute little cake-kabobs in the shape of a baby’s bum, I’m actually about to raise a point or two about how so much of our society has giving and generosity confused with receiving and subconscious expectations. 

If I were truly going to attend a baby shower to ONLY see the baby and share in the excitement of his or her birth, I, A) wouldn’t print off the Babies R’ Us registry list and after scouring the store for a practical gift end up choosing my item by ‘awesome gift-giver’ price range anyway. B) I wouldn’t secretly judge when I could swear that some of the other gifts were from the dollar store (especially when I am a huge fan of the dollar store!). And c) I wouldn’t need to walk away feeling confident that my gift represented my exceptional friendship status with the new mom. Sigh…

It’s going to take time to change a culture that grew up on needing positive acknowledgement for almost everything, including any act of giving. In fact, I can clearly remember that the paintings I made with my kindergarden hands were given to my parents not only to make them happy to have received them, but equally for the satisfaction I got from watching them get stuck to the fridge with the banana magnet. It’s not easy to remove our faulty sense of what giving should feel like, when we are accustomed to being acknowledged for it. Many of us have even been taught that it’s only ‘polite’ to return the giving gesture, rather than just be thankful…am I right? So with that being said I’m pretty sure that Hallmark won’t be discontinuing their ‘thank you card’ line any time soon, when they make millions on how we inherently have difficulty in trusting that the root of giving comes from love…not from the need for acknowledgement.

So, I challenge you to check your motives next time you are out buying a gift for someone, and if a need for something in return is there (whether in the form of social acknowledgement or a thank you card), I bet you an egg salad sandwich that your gift isn’t truly rooted in love.



Colour Me Rad! 

Come out and get colourful for an amazing cause!

May 28th 0900 @ Downsview Park, 5k run/walk for Big Brothers & Big Sisters

Join team Paramedic Nat’s Colourful Sisters (and brothers of course) and have a day filled with memories painted with all the colours of the rainbow!

Go to to purchase tickets and join the team!

Barrie photographer Stephen Plumley will be there to capture all of your colourful moments as his gift to the team’s cause.

Kids are also welcome to join!

Hope to see you there!

~Nat 🙂

Diving into the Ocean of Contemplation

water girl

How deeply do you ‘think’ when you’re asked to ‘contemplate’ something? What does that mean to you? Does it mean that you simply ‘consider’ it? Or maybe it means that you just ‘give it some thought’? Well, tonight I want to challenge you to view contemplation in a much more powerful sense – a sense that is used in the practice of meditation.

Quite simply, we (a large portion of society) are not very good at deeply contemplating anything. That’s not to say that we aren’t intelligent enough to do so, we just can’t seem to go deep enough to approach contemplation without the pressure to gain insight; so we keep our thoughts superficial and above the surface in a safe, yet dramatically less enlightening, way.

Contemplating expands our view on, well…everything! Take happiness for example, the more we deeply contemplate, explore and feel this virtuous emotion, the more happiness begins to become our natural behaviour. In short, the more we take the time to immerse ourselves in an intention or a thought, such as happiness, the more it becomes our lived reality. Clear as mud?…Well, let me use an analogy to further explain the power of contemplation.

So you say you want to be ‘happy’? You want to live a life where happiness is your prevalent emotion. If only there was a way that you could rewire your brain to FEEL happiness more often and to get rid of the toxic, unnecessary noise that fills your mind 99% of the time. Well, what if I told you there is a way. – Allow me to take you diving…below the noise, in the ocean of contemplation.

You’ve ‘heard’ that it’s peaceful below the waves of life and stress that toss you around like a capsized raft, but no matter how often someone asks you to go diving so that you can actually experience life below the waves, you say ‘no’, because you’re too tired to do something ‘like that’, nor do you have ‘time’ to do something like that. But what you may not have realized is that the reason why you’re so tired is because most of your energy is spent clinging onto the raft for fear of ‘going under’. Ironic, isn’t it?

So take a chance and let go of the raft and give yourself permission to explore happiness by testing the waters in the ocean of contemplation. Even if at first this means that you have to plug your nose and simply put your face in the water (i.e.: close your eyes just THINK about happiness), you will quickly see how peaceful it is below the every day noise that fills your mind. When you give yourself this time, you will see the beauty and serenity that you have been missing while on noisy dry-land, and with practice you can become a master contemplation diver in no time. 

Every time you submerge yourself in this ocean, you rewire your brain to being able to feel happiness innately, even when you’re living life above the water. The stress of life doesn’t weigh as heavily as it did before when you were clinging to the raft, because you now know where to go to refuel and relax. As long as you can give yourself a moment to close your eyes, and mindfully swim in the ocean of contemplation, you know that you will be ok.

The hustle and bustle of life can wear us down so easily, but how wonderful is it to know that we are always standing on the vast shore of the ocean of contemplation, with all of the serenity and peace that it offers. So take the time to explored the waters of happiness, and when you are finished, I highly recommend the Sea of Love, the Bay of Compassion and the River of Giving. 



This Is Only the Beginning…


It may seem weird, as Bill 163 (The Protecting Ontario’s First Responders Bill) isn’t technically passed until tomorrow, but I wanted to talk about how this accomplishment is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting and fighting for the mental health and well being of ALL of our healthcare providers across Canada!

I have read a few posts today with regards to how Bill 163 should not pass yet because it doesn’t include certain workplace mental health injuries or healthcare professions. And while I certainly encourage discussion of the expansion of legislation in order to protect the greatest number of individuals, I DO NOT support the delay of this Bill. For a few reasons:

I do agree that there are members of our peer community that should be included in this Bill. In fact, that is why my Wings of Change Peer Support Group is all inclusive. However… I am very wary of delaying a Bill that WILL help so many immediately. People are dying and I know of MANY people who desperately need this Bill NOW. There are other legislations in the works as we speak that have the opportunity to address a broader spectrum of peers, but the world of politics is slow because so many legislations are being brought forward every day.

I will not stand by and see another peer battle PTSD without hope. I will not stand by and learn that my peer can’t afford their mortgage and needs to go bankrupt. I certainly will not stand by to hear another family cry when they learn that the demons of PTSD have taken their loved one away from them forever. That is why I do not support any delay of this Bill.

I wish our fellow healthcare provider peers didn’t feel ‘left behind’ in Bill 163’s process. The fact of the matter is that politics and legislations are not easy to steer, and at this moment we need to celebrate that Bill 163 is a blessing that will save lives. But rest assured, there is a bigger fight happening already. I am a stakeholder in Bill C-211 which is the Federal PTSD Bill, and I will be fighting to include ALL healthcare providers in this legislation.

If you would like to join me in this next fight, feel free to send me a message. ALL voices are imperative in order to keep this positive mental health momentum going!

Bill 163 is just the beginning, (and a great one at that). But the Canadian Government hasn’t heard the last of me yet 😀


Bill 163: Positive Change In Motion

OK So here is the final detailed scoop for tomorrow at Queen’s Park! Sorry for the late update but I just got off the phone with MPP Hoggarth’s Assistant.
~The 3rd Reading of Bill 163 will happen at around 9am.
~The Passing of the Bill will be between 10:30 – noon.
~MPP Flynn has already reserved many of the private gallery seats, so anyone who reached out for a pass will still be on the list, but it will be first come first serve AFTER he fills the seats he requires.
~If we can’t sit in private gallery, we can sit in the upper level gallery, but once again this is on a first come first serve basis and apparently they are expecting many first responders to attend.
~There will be an assistant located in the main hall and at the south basement entrance who will lead us to where we need to go with respect to which seats are left.
~There will be a reception to follow, but the room only holds 50 and they already have 70 attending; so we will have to play that by ear.
~Bring your ID
BUT…WITH THAT ALL BEING SAID…whether we sit at home, at work, or at Queen’s Park, tomorrow is a day in which we should celebrate as we have been waiting for this legislation to pass for many years. But in my opinion, even more importantly, we need to take time to reflect on the lives which have been lost and the families and friends who have been so deeply impacted prior to the implementation of Bill 163.
I have read a few posts today with regards to how Bill 163 should not pass yet because it doesn’t include certain workplace mental health injuries. And while I certainly encourage discussion of the expansion of legislation in order to protect the greatest number of individuals, I DO NOT support the delay of this Bill. I will not stand by and see another peer battle PTSD without hope. I will not stand by and learn that my peer can’t afford their mortgage and needs to go bankrupt. I certainly will not stand by to hear another family cry when they learn that the demons of PTSD have taken their loved away from them forever.
The battle for greater inclusive legislation is in motion. More hard work is yet to come. But I AM SO GRATEFUL that the passing of Bill163 will rescue so many of our peers and their families from desperation and hopelessness.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

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