Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue is launching a toolkit to address the mental health needs of its members.
Chief Dan Derby says mental health issues are very common among firefighters and first responders.
“Unfortunately in our work as firefighters, we’re much more susceptible to mental health injuries. Firefighters are three times the rate of the general public more susceptible to symptoms of mental illness,” says Derby.
“We have an 11 per cent rating in regards to first responders who reported suicidal thoughts as a result of the work they do.”
He says mental health support is an area they really want to improve on because in the past it hasn’t always been very good.
“As an industry, we’re trying to be better at supporting the mental health of our firefighters and prepare them for the exposures we see in our work,” adds Derby.
“We’re trying to be better at how we support members. Just telling someone to suck it up doesn’t work.”
The toolkit will allow show members what supports are available and how to get them.
The idea of the toolkit summarizes the resources available to our members, to better handle when they’re exposed to a trauma-related incident and how they manage that incident,” says Derby.
“The guide clearly lays out the training that we do, the resources that are available to support them, how to access those resources and lastly if we need to escalate it includes how we involve WorkSafe and get clinical councillors in if required.”