May 1, 2020 is National First Responders Day. Celebrate with Ottawa’s First Responders Foundation (OFRF) as they share their stories and launch an awareness campaign to celebrate the day. This is an especially important time to acknowledge these essential personnel as the COVID-19 crisis is still imminent.
On May 1, follow the first responders on ottawafrf.ca/May1 as they will release three video vignettes featuring a board member from each of Ottawa’s first responder services — Police, Fire and Paramedics.
Here are some facts you might not know:
- First responders are much less likely to reach retirement
than the average Canadian. This high attrition rate,
especially in paramedics, is linked to the mental health
demands placed on responders and their families;
- PTSD doesn’t harm just first responders who develop it — it
can have unintended consequences for their families and
- About 45 percent of Canadian first responders have
symptoms consistent with at least one mental health
Can you help first responders? Yes, here is how:
- Say hi and smile when you see a first responder
- Heart Window Campaign – print off or make your own version of our heart logo to stick in the window of your home to show your support for Ottawa First Responders (you can print their website heart from here)
- Ask any first responders you know how they are doing and
be an open ear if they need to talk
- If you notice shifts in their behaviour, encourage them to
reach out (see a resource list on their site at http://ottawafrf.ca/resources/)
- When not in isolation, take the time to attend or host events in support of
first responders and their mental health
- Donate to the Ottawa First Responders Foundation
How does the OFRF support first responders? Their focus is on augmenting existing services for Ottawa first responders, but to also extend that support to retirees, veterans and their families.
The OFRF are currently forming peer to peer support groups and intertwining a connection between the police, fire and paramedics. As well, they are creating access to a clinician network for mental health support. Members are assisted by discovering their wellness paths with the support of clinicians and evidence-based programing.
In the works, is the planning of a Wellness Centre for all first responders and their families.
On May 1, 2020 do take the time to thank the first responders around you and wish them a Happy First Responders Day!