A Lower Mainland paramedic is raising the alarm over the number of first responders in the province who have taken their lives since the start of the year.
“We lost 19 last year. It’s increasing every year,” says Lisa Jennings.
She’s the founder of You Are Not Alone, an online support group for first responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
She says right now many paramedics run up against WorkSafeBC regulations requiring them to “prove” their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was caused by their work.
Other provinces have passed legislation that deems PTSD claims by first responders as work-related “unless proven otherwise.”
Jennings says since January, six B.C. first responders have taken their own lives, including a retired police officer.
“His last words were my life is worth less than a sprained ankle,” she says.
However, WorkSafe BC says it was “not notified” of any deaths by suicide by first responders last year.
It also says under legislation WorkSafe is required to ‘inquire’ into the circumstances of a person’s claim to determine if an injury stemmed from their job.
The latest WorkSafeBC figures show paramedics filed 95 mental disorder claims in 2015. Of those 13 PTSD cases were accepted.