Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Moves Pro-Actively on Mental Health Issues

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue

Thunder Bay Fire RescueTHUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Fire Rescue is bringing a new level of training to staff: Mental Health and Wellness. safeTALK – a suicide alertness training session for all Fire Rescue staff, taking place Tuesday, Dec. 2, is the starting point to this new health and wellness training.

Mental health, critical incident stress management, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide alertness, and workplace wellness are training topics not traditionally identified or offered. Yet in today’s society these issues impact a growing number of emergency responders both in their personal lives and on the job with the people they meet and the situations they encounter. Fire Rescue is taking a leading role when it comes to these areas, with Thunder Bay Police and EMS engaging similar paths.

“Firefighters can be at risk for PTSD and other mental health conditions,” said Hankkio. “By having tools to talk about suicide and mental health, we hope to cultivate a culture where vulnerability is not seen as a weakness, but can help us to create a safer workplace and a safer community. It’s time to create a pro-active dialogue, because not talking about it isn’t working.”

The Thunder Bay region has high rates of suicide and it is often the first responders who attend to these deaths. safeTALK gives responders the tools to talk with families and friends who have just been exposed to traumatic situations.

“Recognizing that safeTALK is to suicide what CPR training is to heart attacks, Fire Rescue is taking the first steps towards preventative action,” adds Hankkio. “As public servants emergency service responders do what it takes to save lives and make our community safer. They are now being given new tools to help keep themselves and others safe.”

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