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Our View: Kudos on support for Alberta first responders

The Alberta government has dispersed $1.5 million in grants through Alberta's Supporting Psychological Health in First Responders (SPHFR) program.
opinion

The Alberta government has dispersed $1.5 million in grants through Alberta's Supporting Psychological Health in First Responders (SPHFR) program.

The program is meant to help bolster mental health for first responders as they deal with trauma or Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).

This funding has allowed organizations like the Alberta Critical Incident Advisory Council (ACIAC) to expand its network to over 3,000 trained peers across 170 organizations, providing vital support and recovery service for those first responders suffering from lingering trauma.

These funds are much needed, and PTSI continues to critically impact the health of first responders. Over the years, one of the biggest reasons for first responders to go on injury leave has been associated with work-related trauma. 

According to the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association, between 2015 and 2019, WCB recorded 685 claims for first responders related to post-traumatic stress injuries. However, the number of claims soared during the pandemic, and in 2021 WCB Alberta accepted 565 claims for psychological injuries from first responders.

None of this is surprising, as when you deal with the most awful things over years and years as our first responders do, the toll adds up. Without strong support programs, particularly from peers, those injuries can linger for decades.

It is good to see the provincial government taking some action on the matter, particularly with the shortage of EMS and other first responders across Alberta. The easiest way to get more first responders on the job is to get the ones you already have the support they need so they can return to work.

Outside of these considerations, it is a strong gesture of human compassion for those who put their lives and their mental health on the line for us each and every day. 

We thank all our local first responders for their service.

 


Airdrie City View Staff

About the Author: Airdrie City View Staff

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