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Evaluation of a training program to protect firefighters’ mental health from the effects of traumatic incidents

Keywords: Mental Health, Training, Traumatic events

Dr. Joy MacDermid, Professor of Physical Therapy at Western University, Captain Steve Fraser, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Dr. Amanda Brazil, Research Scientist at the Centre for Health and Community at the University of PEI.

 

Title of Research

Evaluation of a training program to protect firefighters’ mental health from the effects of traumatic incidents

Summary

Firefighters have dangerous jobs. For example, most firefighters are exposed to victims and/or coworkers who have a serious injury or die. Firefighters have indicated that research is needed on peer interventions that would help them deal with traumatic events. This research will investigate firefighters’ views on an intervention called “Resilient MindsTM.” This program was co-developed by Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association- Vancouver-Fraser branch. It is a comprehensive four module prevention program designed specifically for firefighters. While the program is popular, research must be completed to assess the impact of the program.

The research will compare 300 career firefighters in Vancouver that have completed the program to 300 Vancouver firefighters who have not. It will also compare these groups to 300 volunteer firefighters in PEI that have gone through the training. The Resilient MindsTM intervention will be investigated using standard self-report measures of mental health and work limitation. Intensive interviews will also be completed with providers, firefighters, and employers to understand which parts of the program are critical and which areas need improvement. This detailed information will help to improve Resilient MindsTM so that it can be rolled out to other fire services across Canada.

When to expect results

The research team expects that they will have preliminary results to share by Spring/Summer 2020. For more information on the project, you can view a video about implementing Resilient MindsTM in PEI: https://firewell.ca/research/findings/mental-health-resiliency-training-in-firefighters-video/. For more information about current research or resources specifically for firefighters, you can visit www.firewell.ca.

 

Research Team – Project Leads

Dr. Joy MacDermid is a Professor of Physical Therapy at Western University and Principal Investigator. She has worked with firefighters for 15 years to develop the national FIREWELL partnership and has published widely on firefighter musculoskeletal and mental health.

Captain Steve Fraser (Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services) has over 20 years of experience in the fire service. He co-authored Resilient MindsTM and oversaw the program implementation and data collection in Vancouver.

Dr. Amanda Brazil is a Research Scientist at the Centre for Health and Community Research at the University of Prince Edward Island and a retired volunteer firefighter. She has expertise in qualitative research and mental health. She oversaw the adaption and implementation of Resilient MindsTM in PEI.

 

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