“It’s the jobs you can relate to, when you connect to (the victim) that it really hits,” veteran paramedic Mathew Sing says.
Throughout his 20 year career Mr Sing has seen it all – the suicides, car fatalities, the families left behind. When he first started in the job paramedics had more time to debrief, to chat. Now stressed paramedics often go from job to job – leaving little time to properly process the horrors they see.
“It’s when you start connecting with someone, their family. It when they from a no-one to a someone, a patient to a real person, (that the trauma really sets in),” Mr Sing said.
A ground-breaking Ambulance Victoria mental health strategy and partnership with Beyond Blue is a step in the right direction to proactively treating trauma among paramedics, union chief Steve McGhie believes.
“It’s essential to have support services because of the death and trauma paramedics face. Often they take the trauma home with them,” Mr McGhie said.
Mr Sing says crews now focus on a having a proactive focus. Peer support services are strong. “When I first started if you said you needed to go on a fatigue break you would have been seen as a wuss. There was a real stigma attached,” Mr Sing said.
“Now there is a real acceptance that there is a need for people to take a rest break … or else they won’t stay in the job for long.”
Mr McGhie said there was room for all emergency services to work together on mental health stress.