Multiple murders will haunt emergency personnel

    TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ - The horrific and gruesome scene at Virginia
Tech where 32 people were brutally murdered is one that will likely haunt many
of the attending emergency services personnel for a long time to come. In
fact, it is this type of situation that can often result in post-traumatic
stress disorder among police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
    "No one is completely immune to the horror of tragic situations. These
professionals need help dealing with what they've experienced because it may
have devastating emotional and psychological results for both them personally
and their families," says Vince Savoia, Executive Director of the Tema Conter
Memorial Trust, an organization that addresses the issue of post-traumatic
stress among emergency service personnel.
    Emergency service personnel are two to three times more likely to suffer
from post-traumatic stress than the general population due to the type of
horrific images they witness as a normal part of their work day.
    Staff Sergeant Brad McKay with York Regional Police knows first hand the
type of difficulties his colleagues struggle with. "Our people have a high
threshold of pain so in order to get the job done well, they remain
professional and in control while in the midst of a horrific situation," says
Sergeant McKay, who also coordinates the York Region Critical Incident Stress
Management Team. "However, it's later that the reality of what they have seen
and experienced starts to set in and the hurting begins. That's why it's
crucial to have not only support services in place but also that personnel are
trained properly in advance so that they are armed with the mental tools
needed to deal with devastating situations."
    The Tema Conter Memorial Trust aims to shine a light on the often
forgotten pain of emergency personnel. The Trust invests not only in important
research but also in education and awareness of post-traumatic stress. Public
education is important in helping people understand the sacrifice emergency
personnel and their families make by serving their community. As part of their
public education program, the Trust has a PSA depicting what emergency
personnel experience when they go home after a particularly traumatic call.
(Please view the PSA at
    "It's so important that emergency service personnel to feel safe to reach
out and ask for help when they need it," says Savoia. "And we need to be sure
that we can provide the right kind of help for the sake of their health, their
families and the safety of our communities. These people may be described as
heroes, but they're also humans."

For further information:

For further information: Mr. Vince Savoia, Executive Director, Office:
1-888-288-8036, Cell: (416) 427-4391

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Tema Conter Memorial Trust

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