Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


October 2019

I Will Not Stay In My Lane When It Comes To Saving Lives

I Will Not Stay In My Lane (

Dear Federal Leaders, Bill C-211 Already Exists. It’s Time For Action.

Are these leaders not aware of Bill C-211? All parties voted unanimously in favour of it. This isn’t a new crisis. With the election a few days away the leaders choose to respond to this article, but not mention legislation that was fought for by MP Todd Doherty and MP John Brassard. Sigh.

Enough promises. Act on legislation that has already reached royal assent. Stop going in circles.

From Bill C-211: “And whereas many Canadians, in particular persons who have served as first responders, firefighters, military personnel, corrections officers and members of the RCMP, suffer from PTSD and would greatly benefit from the development and implementation of a federal framework on PTSD that provides for best practices, research, education, awareness and treatment;”

Sanctuary Trauma: What is YOUR experience?

Are you a first responder who works in Ontario (paramedic, police, fire, dispatch) and you have experienced sanctuary trauma while off of work? (Feeling of abandonment by employer. Lack of support and direction.) And would like to share your story (or even a quote) with Barrie Today (anonymously if necessary) please message me.

It will be a follow up to this article:

ALSO: Are you a manager/first responder service provider (anywhere in Ontario) who does try to address sanctuary trauma? I would love to hear from you! I know you’re out there. SOME are doing good things. Let’s chat.

AND: Are you a first responder (anywhere in Ontario) who feels their managers/service IS addressing sanctuary trauma? Have you had a good experience with support and guidance when you were off work?

Please email me at or message me.

Global Peer Support Day

I did not know this, but yesterday was #globalpeersupportday (thank you Parul Shah for informing me of this) and I would be amiss if I didn’t give a note of public appreciation to ALL of the amazing Wings of Change (WOC) Peer Support facilitators (close to 50 of them!) across Canada at our 23 chapters. And a huge thank you to Syd Gravel, retired staff sergeant of the Ottawa Police Department and member of the Order of Merit For Police, for being WOC’s peer support guru!

But most importantly, thank you to WOC’s program administrator, Katherine Pomerleau; she needs to be recognized for making WOC what it is today. I cannot take any credit for this. Katherine has had a vision for WOC since day one and has implemented it. She created guidelines for WOC, (based on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Peer Support Guidelines), expanded the website, (, got WOC researched by a university and recognized as a “thriving peer support model”, and has truly made a welcoming environment for all of the facilitators. This is just the beginning. So much of Katherine’s time and dedication has gone into WOC; ALL volunteer time!

Katherine, WOC would not be what it is today without you! We love you, and thank you. And I’m sure all of the attendees at the meetings would thank you as well. You have impacted the lives of so many in a positive way.

Happy Thanksgiving

So much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Ask About Suicide

People often ask me, what do they do if they suspect someone is thinking about suicide?

Answer: Ask.

Asking them if they are thinking about suicide will not make them do it. On the contrary. Asking them can do many of the following:

  • show them that you care;
  • provide relief that they now have someone to talk to about it; and
  • show them that they are not alone and that they have someone who will help them to get help;

IF they say yes, they are thinking about suicide but they don’t have a plan to follow through with it, and don’t want to do it, you don’t have to have the answers to all of their questions. Most often when this conversation comes up for the first time the person simply needs someone to listen and validate their feelings and help them to find the professional care they need.

IF they say yes, and have a plan and are going to follow through with it, you need to get them to the hospital safely. This may mean that you take them yourself or call 911 if necessary. They may not want to go, but this is a life or death situation and must be treated that way. If they get mad that you want them to go to the hospital, that’s ok. They are better mad than dead. Harsh? Maybe. True? Yes.

Talking about suicide may not be easy at first. But it’s often easier than you think. Be their safe person; ASK!

It’s Not Cool To Joke About People Who Battle With Mental Illness

It’s World Mental Health Day. So, as I was scrolling through FB I was sad to see this copy and paste post. It’s not “hilarious” to joke about the people you would know in “a mental hospital”. Listen, I know this wasn’t shared with the intention of causing someone who came across it pain…but it did. It hurt me, because, well, I was a person in ”a mental hospital”, many times in fact. 

If you would like to know what it was like to be a patient in the mental health department, just ask me. I am an open book and believe that only by sharing our experiences will the stigma and myths of mental illness decrease; and maybe one day, vanish.

I’m not mad about this post. Sad…but not mad. It has given me an opportunity to educate – so thank you.


Hilarious 😂😂. You have to do it without cheating…It is so weird how it comes up with the names…this is so funny!!
I’m in a mental hospital.
My roommate: 
Licks the glass: 
Helps you escape: 
My Psychiatrist: 
Asleep in a corner: 
Shouts at everyone: 
Padded room occupant: 
Eats the plants: 
Talks to themselves: 
Kicks the nurse: 
Believes they are unicorns: 
Sneaks in the alcohol: 
Make a copy-paste and delete the names…
Then type @ then the 1st letter of each sentence (no spaces) to see the name of one of your friends! (if one is already used, take the next one!!) dont cheat either!!!

Grrrr! We Already Know This!–did-these-officers-have-to-die-barrie-psychologist-part-of-police-suicide-panel/

Grrrrr. 🤦🏻‍♀️ We already know ALL of the information provided in this article, and have for a LONG time!

We also know the answer to the question, “Did these officers have to die?” NO!

I’m fed up with reading about another study and another panel! Actions are what need to occur. Allow me to suggest some:

  • stop trying to get first responders diagnosed with PTSD to return to work faster than you would if they broke their leg. PTSD is a complex diagnosis with multiple treatment options which take time.
  • publicly fund and get insurance companies to cover all treatments offered for PTSD.
  • provide and encourage peer support internally and externally.
  • include family members in the first responder’s treatment regime. Family members have a wealth of knowledge which can help with care, AND family members themselves may require treatment.
  • approve longer vacation time and stop tracking sick days. Mental health days ARE necessary and first responders should not feel bad for taking them.
  • if you are a manager, reach out to your employees who are off due to PTSD! I (and many of my co-workers) have never had a phone call from my previous employer asking how I was doing. Even an email would have been nice.
  • recognize retirement due to PTSD. These first responders sacrificed their lives every day to help their community’s. When we see that retirement for any other reason is celebrated, it hurts.
  • make sure that first responders off with PTSD still feel like part of the “family”. Sanctuary trauma is a real thing and can be devastating for some.

… the list can go on! And I’m sure many who are reading this have many suggestions of their own.

Some of these suggestions don’t even cost a dime. They cost the time it takes to be a decent human being and support those who desperately need help.–did-these-officers-have-to-die-barrie-psychologist-part-of-police-suicide-panel/

I Will Not Stay In My Lane When It Comes To Advocating For The Saving Of Lives

I will not stay in my lane (whatever that is) when it comes to advocating for the saving of lives. Please stop trying to get me to. You’re wasting your time. Work WITH me instead. 

I’m what you call an apple cart upsetter; but I do so with respect and good intentions. But no matter how respectful and well intentioned I am, many of the people who pull these carts don’t like what I represent. Upsetting the apple cart often looks like me challenging agencies to do better, sooner, and to not make excuses. I have no political agenda when I do so. My intent is to save lives. Plain and simple! And if that means that I need to challenge well known, large agencies to stop working in siloed, ego-driven apple carts, I will; and I have. 

Not everyone minds that I upset apple carts all over the place. Many individuals (most often the hands-on workers at these agencies) who have a passion for helping others and do so on a daily basis, see that my intentions are good. And that their ability to do their jobs to their fullest is often delayed by committees and boards that meet on an infrequent basis and rarely consult with them directly about their needs. I have experienced these massive gaps between the workers and board members first hand when I recently met with some executives of a very well known healthcare agency, and when I relayed specific asks from a department that was in need of some additional funding, (funding that I was prepared to request from the local MPP’s), I was told that the workers have no say in what is required and that I should leave the asks of the MPP’s to the Vice President of said healthcare agency because they were the one who was always at Queen’s Park. News flash: if I (and many others) were to have waited for Vice Presidents of agencies to ask at Queen’s Park for what first responders needed from WSIB, we may not have Bill 163, and an entirely new department at WSIB dedicated to mental wellness. I have every right to make requests of my MPP’s, just like all of the citizen’s of this province do.

Like it or not, I will request declarations of emergencies, public inquiries, create peer support groups, ask elected officials for meetings, share my likes and dislikes about certain agencies, share my lived experiences and get upset when I have to bury yet another friend because of deficiencies in our healthcare system. 

When I upset the apple cart, I don’t do so just to be a nuisance, (trust me, I don’t have time for that), I often have a plan that needs to at least be considered seriously. I shine the light on siloed agencies so that they start to work in collaboration with one another, thus decreasing overlap, and hopefully freeing up funds that can be used in areas of need. Our mental health and addiction crisis in this province needs all hands on deck. We need to work together to find solutions to gaps in the system. We need to stop creating yet another board or committee to research what Ontarian’s need. We already know these answers. What we need is better care, now.

This Friday, I am meeting with MPP and Attorney General Doug Downey, MPP Andrea Khanjin, and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Michael Tibollo, and am proposing a system-based transformation of our current provincial mental health and addiction treatment that will include:

1. Comprehensive, accessible and seamless addiction treatment pathways;
2. Low barrier residential and out-patient treatment; and
3. Improved physician addiction treatment and education. 

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I will not stay in my lane (whatever that is) when it comes to advocating for the saving of lives. Please stop trying to get me to. You’re wasting your time. Work WITH me instead.

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