Increased violence: Small Canadian town invest in body armour for firefighters - enhanced mental health support to volunteers
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The city of Mission, a small town in British Columbia, has recently decided to invest in body armour for their Fire & Rescue teams, as an extra layer of protection due to the perceived risk of violence.
The Vernon Morning Star reported on November 8 that The Council in the City of Mission, BC unanimously approved $15,000 CAD to purchase body armour for firefighters . This was decided at their Monday’s (Nov. 6) meeting.
MFRS Chief Mark Goddard outlined the need for body armour in a report. Although the risk is not high, he feels the extra layer of protection is motivated:
“Statistically the homeless population by and large is not a threat to responders. When considering the sheer number of interactions to incidents every year, assaults and violence are still rare but becoming more common, and Mission is not immune to this threat,” the report reads.
The report also mentions the frequency of drug overdose calls for fire & rescue crews in the area. Drug overdoses can quickly bring patients from unconsciousness to a state of severe agitation, and Chief Goddard said to the Vernon Star that situations like that "...can leave firefighters with no time to retreat if a patient becomes violent".
New 24/7 resources for mental health support available to volunteers in Nova Scotia
A new Nova Scotia Firefighter and Ground Search and Rescue Volunteer Assistance Program is expected to give first responders and their families access to personal and family counselling, stress management, nutrition support and more, as reported by Firefighting in Canada on November 10.
Volunteer first responders will have access to counselling by mental health clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a designated phone number starting next month.
“Nova Scotians who volunteer to be firefighters do so because they want to help their neighbours, friends and family. They do this often without thinking about the potential for physical and emotional injury. Volunteer firefighters in this province have experienced a few very rough years, and this new program provides welcome support for those who need it,” said Greg Jones, president of the Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia.
Photo (Above). Fire/Rescue Academy 10 Photo by Aaron Hines. (The person in the photo is unrelated to the topics of this story). Public Domain photo from RawPixel.com.