As we continue to grapple with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on communities, one thing we can be assured of is that Paramedics serving on the frontlines are rising to the challenge, providing essential medical care and support for our most vulnerable populations.
From the beginning we have seen Paramedics step into roles supporting communities on a level that has not been seen before to fill gaps in healthcare and to ensure that people have access to the care they need despite the ongoing demand for service during the pandemic.
As highly trained, resilient, and adaptable practitioners, Paramedics are working day in and day out with communities to answer the call. From implementing COVID-19 testing sites, monitoring, and vaccinating patients in long-term care facilities, working in collaboration with organizations to facilitate surge capacity teams and the execution of ‘Operation Remote Immunity’ (providing vaccinations to Indigenous populations in remote fly-in communities), Paramedics continue to go above and beyond.
The Ontario Paramedic Association is proud of the great work that our profession is doing to keep our communities safe and healthy, and we would like to thank frontline Paramedics for their tenacity and resilience in the face of COVID-19.
We appreciate and thank you for all that you do!
Time for Action on Psychological Injuries (part two)
What to do when you get a no or even worse, a yes with no action. It is important to see that preventing psychological injuries and harm is a process of continual improvement. Every Service can improve and needs to constantly evaluate the process of injury prevention. The CSA Standard has no end point. When you hit the objective, you move the goal line further ahead.
Your Health and Safety Committee has a primary mandate which is to prevent injuries. We need to ask the hard questions of this Committee to bring psychological injuries and harm into view. It is very possible that psychological injuries have reached a point in your service where they are the number one cause of lost time. Yet many services have little to no real prevention process or evaluation of that process. Waiting until the injuries become severe and lead to lost time or permanent serious injury is not an acceptable outcome. It is good to have treatments for these injuries, but it is always better to prevent them in the first place. We must start at the beginning and focus on psychological safety.
As much as this needs to happen quickly, meaningful change often takes time. Many services are like the Titanic – a big ship going fast with a tiny rudder and icebergs everywhere. It will take time for the ship to move after your give the rudder a nudge, but it will move. The time to shift from reaction to prevention is now. Hesitating to find proactive solutions could lead to further, and more permanent injuries for you and your peers. The process starts with: Introducing the ideas, following up with questions, requesting more information and asking the Health and Safety Committee to keep you psychologically safe. Showing your peers and management that you are aware of this serious safety issue will help to create a desire for change. Sometimes the focus is on other issues, so we need to shine the light on the prevention of psychological injuries.
If saving the lives of paramedics and preventing serious life altering psychological injuries is not the priority, it needs to be. It may come down to dollars to convince your service to see the value in prevention. If you get a no or a yes with no action on prevention, then demonstrating how it will save on the budget is essential. We do not need to share the same reasons for change if we both get what we want from that change. Building a business case will be challenging as there are not a lot of examples of services taking on psychological injury prevention. However, it is happening in other organizations. In 2017, Manulife increased their psychological coverage from $1000 (already higher than many paramedic services) to $10000. They were able to increase their employee return to work from 55% to 86% and reduce short term disability claims. Clearly if an insurance company can see the value in this investment, we should too. By taking away a financial barrier (which in this case can be easier to implement and more immediate than many of the other changes we will need to see) a very drastic improvement in employee wellness was achieved.
Manulife has taken a targeted approach. The steps in their process includes: Prevention, Early intervention, Community (Private and Public) partnerships, Active case management, Functional assessment, Treatment and Self care. You will notice that self care is last on their list but has been first on many services’. Self care and resiliency are extremely important to both prevention and recovery but can unintentionally place the blame on the injured employee for not doing enough. Paramedics are inherently resilient. Their resiliency could be improved, but it is unlikely to prevent injury and can allow for them to end up deeper in a serious psychological injury pathology before treatment is accessed.
It is becoming noticeably clear how shifting the course of our services is centered around system driven change. It is important to recognize it is not any one person’s fault that we have ended up in a psychological health pandemic. But rather, it is a failure in the system to prevent first and then focus on treatment. The system can be fixed, but only if we start moving and embrace the change together. Prevention is the protocol that we all need to put in place. Prevention is essential to our psychological safety. We all need to change to a prevention model and help to beat the mental health pandemic.
Greetings from the Toronto Paramedic Association. It has been a difficult year for all of us and the BOD is proud of all the frontline Paramedics making a difference. It is truly an honor being along side all of you.
There were some opportunities for the TPA to shine. A highlight of the previous accomplishments is warranted. There were many generous donations throughout the past year that gave a smile.
Mark McEwan and the McKewan group donated over 1 hundred meals so every paramedic could be fed on shift, Thank you!
Van Houte donated coffee and Keurig Coffee machines to every station so paramedics could be fueled for their shifts.
The TPA was gracious that they could take part in the Canadian Paramedic Memorial Bell’s cross-province tour. Thank you to Omer for his support and dedication to make this happen.
The TPA was able to collect over $5,000 dollars to donate to the Movember foundation. Masks were purchased and sold. Thanks to Team lead Eden over $10,000 was raised for this important organization.
The TPA purchased hand sanitizer for paramedics to clip to their belts so it was readily available.
The BOD wishes that everyone stays safe and healthy through this year. We are truly all in this together!