Fire departments to develop PTSD policies
The Clarence-Rockland fire department is currently working on a policy dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in order to help firefighters within the department deal with the stress that may come with the job and to also help break the stigma surrounding PTSD. This comes shortly after Ontario’s Ministry of Labour called on fire departments across the province to begin implementing their own PTSD policies.
In June of this year, a firefighter from Clarence-Rockland took his own life and, although, it is not stipulated that the job had anything to do with it, the incident opened up a conversation about mental health within several fire departments. According to Clarence-Rockland fire department’s deputy chief, Mario Villeneuve, several firefighters from Ottawa were sent to Clarence-Rockland in order to offer support to members of the affected department.
The Nation municipality has just adopted its own PTSD policy for the fire department during a recent council meeting on September 25. The policy addresses breaking the stigma surrounding PTSD, preventative options, symptom recognition and how to find immediate support within the fire department, but also externally.
The policy outlines four steps: the first is to engage in more discussions about PTSD within the fire department in order to break the stigma and the second is to to establish a critical incident stress management (CISM) team involving other Prescott-Russell fire departments so that firefighters can seek help and support from other firefighters who understand them but may not necessarily be from their own department. The third step includes investing in a Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Service that would provide a 24/7 phone helpline. The last step is for the firemen themselves, recommending they seek external support unrelated to the fire department.
Both the Clarence-Rockland and The Nation fire departments are currently undergoing processes in order to set up and implement their own PTSD policy, which should be undergoing approval shortly. Firefighters from the area are welcome to make suggestions to the fire department during this process.
Des services des incendies de la région travaillent actuellement à l’élaboration d’une politique sur le syndrome de stress posttraumatique (SSPT) afin d’aider les pompiers souffrant de stress associé au travail à briser la stigmatisation entourant le SSPT.