What we sponsor through the delivery of
Peer Support Programs
Why Peer Support programs?
Peer support programs are essential in maintaining the health of organizations, especially those in the first responder community. A well established peer program effectively supports members after difficult emergency calls, connects practitioners and their families to the appropriate resources and builds relationships within an organization that serve as a key factor in building resilience.
Historically, EMS is a profession where psychological safety has been significantly overlooked. The inherent risk of being exposed to traumatic calls, unsafe scenes, violent patients and human suffering is evident and takes its toll on these individuals. It is through this new lens of acknowledgement that practitioners and organizations are beginning to understand the importance peer programs and wellness initiatives play in creating and maintaining healthy practitioners.
With Peer Support programs developed and maintained through volunteerism, the ability to create, promote and provide wellness initiatives is financially limited. That is why, through the generosity of donations, EMS Peer Support & Wellness Solutions enhances opportunity and sustainability for Peer Support programs to grow roots and thrive.
We support the physical and psychological well-being of our Emergency Medical practitioners through the following 4 main objectives.
1) ACKNOWLEDGING THE INDIVIDUAL BEHIND THE UNIFORM
In a profession that has inherent physical and psychological risks every day it is easy to be swept up in the chaos and fast-moving profession. When organizations begin to grow, EMS practitioners at times feel as though they are merely a number and lose the feeling of being seen and valued on a more intimate level. At EMSPSWS, we see each individual and choose to honour them while working collaboratively with our partners to facilitate this.
We sponsor significant life events delivered through organizations Peer Support programs. Whether it is from a sudden death of a loved one, a terminal diagnosis, the loss of a child, or the birth of a baby. Our sponsorship helps peer programs commemorating these monumental times in our practitioner’s lives. They are seen as individuals whose experiences are validated. Each significant event is respectfully acknowledged through a personalized card and gift. The real gift for us is receiving messages and pictures back from these individuals expressing their heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.
2) BUILDING COMMUNITY CONNECTION THAT FOSTERS RESILIENCE
With reported rates of retirement as low as 4% in EMS practitioners’ we recognize that those who leave the profession whether it be from physical or psychological injury or those who do in fact make it to retirement miss the camaraderie. Having a sense of continued community is of the utmost importance to this group of individuals. A main factor in resilience is having a community support network. The sights and sounds of this career stay with individuals and who better to understand this than those who have been there.
Community connection is accomplished through the sponsorship of Alumni breakfast, platoon breakfasts, Mother’s Day Barbecues and Annual Education events that bring not only our practitioners, but their families together as well.
3) CREATION OF WELLNESS SPACES SUCH AS ZEN DENS
EMS Peer Support & Wellness Solutions has contributed to the support of the very first EMS Zen Den in Alberta. It is a space that offers the opportunity for EMS practitioners to decompress after critical incidents in a warm inviting area. They can engage in yoga, meditation, art and music therapy as a means to regulate themselves before/after or in between calls. Each modality is researched and offers physiological benefits to one’s health and well-being.
EMS practitioners’ physical and especially psychological health has historically been overlooked with little emphasis placed on the latter. A recent Canada wide study reported 49% of paramedic participants screened positive for at least one mental health disorder (Carleton et al., 2018). With the staggering rates of PTSI, anxiety and depression up to five times higher than the general population. It is now apparent more than ever just how important it is for our EMS practitioners to place their health and well-being at the forefront. For when they do, our citizens, our communities and our families benefit.
4) SUPPORT EMS SMALL BUSINESS PLATFORMS
A massive element in career longevity in the EMS career is having hobbies and interests outside of the profession. Individuals can express, create and innovate through many areas. A wide variety of EMS practitioners have hidden talents and creative outlets that are seen on a local level or admit their community of peers. We want to highlight their amazing talents and help bring awareness to support their endeavors and small businesses. Recognizing that by doing so, this in turn supports their mental health and well-being directly influencing career longevity.
We prioritize this partnership with our EMS small businesses or hobbyists by showcasing their work on our website and in return they dedicate a small portion of their proceeds back to support our mission. It is truly a win- win for everyone!