Canadian Firefighters Provided Leave For Stressful Calls

Canadian Firefighters Provided Leave For Stressful Calls
Firehouse.com

After a deadly wreck involving a drunk driver, Vaughan Fire Rescue Service responders in Ontario are being provided with time to unwind after traumatic responses.

The 2015 crash claimed the lives of four people, including three children, and rattled area firefighters who responded. 
 
"In my 23 years of being a first responder, that was one the most horrific scenes I ever attended," Vaughan Fire Rescue Service Deputy Fire Chief of Andrew Zvanitajs told CBC Toronto.
 
Following the crash, the service met with their human resources provider to look at options to ensure that firefighters could have the time and resources to cope with the trauma they have witnessed. 
 
"We need to have a more fullsome response from the minute things like this happen,"  Zvanitajs said. 
 
The department developed a program that triggers a mandatory three-hour leave for crews.
 
"They stay in the city, they stay in the workplace, but for three hours you're not responding to emergency calls. It's called decompression time," Zvanitajs said.
 
The same crew that responded to the 2015 tragedy also responded to a deadly crash this past weekend. 
 
"We had three firefighters —  it was a platoon (that) responded to the crash three years ago — they also responded Saturday night. That's just bad luck. You might go an entire career and never see an incident like this," Zvanitajs said.
 
Zvanitajs told CBC that they are working with area fire, EMS and law agencies to implement the program.
 
"They're all in the process of developing guidelines, and they all support their staff," Zvanitajs said. "The paramedics service has different needs, police service has different needs, but what works for the Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service is this model."