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First Aid For The Mind: Mental Health Support For First Responders

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Mental Health & Wellbeing

Through this research, co-investigator Adriane Peak seeks to examine the social support systems available to first responders in the Okanagan area. First Responders in the Okanagan, which include but are not limited to paramedics, firefighters, RCMP and police, search and rescue response and 911 dispatchers attend to the emergency situations and injuries of individuals, and facilitate their transportation to medical services such as the nearest hospital. This daily work involves witnessing the trauma of medical emergencies and can lead to psychological stress to the workers in the short and long term, sometimes resulting in conditions such as compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, moral injury, Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The importance of a strong support system for these individuals is undergoing significant changes in light of growing public awareness around these issues and also the current worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. Through one-on-one interviews, this research aims to examine the context of mental health support from the perspective of first responders and contribute to more effective social change in terms of delivery of these resources.