More help needed for first responders coping with stress, say researchers

A member of Wildfire Management Alberta’s Wild Mountain Unit hoses down hotspots in the Parsons Creek area of Fort McMurray. (Photo: Flickr – Premier of Alberta)

A member of Wildfire Management Alberta’s Wild Mountain Unit hoses down hotspots in the Parsons Creek area of Fort McMurray. (Photo: Flickr – Premier of Alberta)

Regina – Researchers at the University of Regina say there’s such a mishmash of programs aimed at helping first responders cope with stress that it’s tough to know if any of them are working.

Associate professor of psychology Nick Carleton says his team reviewed more than 100 studies and found little evidence that programs are helping police officers, firefighters and paramedics deal with stress associated with things like battling forest fires or other disasters.

Carleton says increasing standards and uniformity for programs across the country would make it easier to measure results.

He says otherwise it’s impossible to ensure quality of programs and that’s not providing the care that first responders deserve.

Only 174 chiefs of public safety agencies responded to a survey from the researchers about what programs are being offered to help first responders.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says 26 first responders have taken their own lives so far this year and, at the current rate, that could surpass the 40 first responders who committed suicide in 2015.

The Canadian Press

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