Fatal crash leaves York Region paramedics seeking help for PTSD
A tragic crash in Vaughan last week has left paramedic seeking help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Iain Park is the deputy chief of York Region EMS, where paramedics are ready to deal with almost any medical emergency. However, Park says the car crash that killed four people eight days ago in Vaughn was different.
“Paramedics are highly trained individuals, but nothing can prepare you for this. At the end of the day paramedics are brothers, sisters, they are fathers, they are parents and sometimes grandparents.”
An SUV collided with a minivan at the intersection of Kirby Road and Kipling Avenue. The crash claimed the lives of 9-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his 5-year-old brother Harrison, 2-year-old sister Milly and their grandfather, Gary Neville.
The SUV driver faces numerous charges, including drunk driving.
Of the 15 paramedics who responded to the incident, eight did not return to work that day and they haven't been back since because they're suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
According to The Tema Conter Memorial Trust – a Canadian charitable organization that helps first responders in the aftermath of horrific situations – 25 per cent of paramedics will experience the effects of PTSD during their careers. Seventeen per cent of firefighters and almost eight per cent of police officers will also suffer from PTSD.
Park says the paramedics all have the support of their colleagues, as well as access to professional counselling to help them get back to work.
“We now recognize that the emotional health and the mental health of our staff is just as important as their clinical skills or their physical abilities,” he says. “We have employee support programs, we are building peer support, to support our members to keep everybody well.”
So far York Regional Police aren't saying if any officers have taken leave because of stress related to that same horrible crash. The City of Vaughan says it won't comment on firefights because that information is confidential.