This week is National Paramedic Services Week. It is an occasion to recognize hardworking and courageous professionals for their dedicated public services and to thank them for protecting our health and safety. We spoke with a local former paramedic and heard some unsettling stories.
Since the early age of eight, Charissa Klamn knew she wanted to become a paramedic. Whenever her family drove down the road, she would ask her parents to follow ambulances and fire trucks, so she could be immersed in the experience. And her dreams came true in 2008 when she started with Calgary Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Now retired from the job, Klamn says the work is overwhelming, especially with an over-burdened support system.
Klamn recommends the next time you see an EMS worker, you should give them a big hug. She says the job is rewarding, but takes a huge mental toll. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not uncommon among EMS personnel.
Klamn adds that suicide among EMS workers is higher than average. This is fresh in her memory following the news of a work colleague who recently died by suicide.