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The July 2014 headline in the paper showed that; "11 first responders killed themselves in the past 10 weeks." Police officers firefighters, paramedics are more likely to take their lives then those who they are trying to help.

Most of us do not know the stresses of those who are our first responders face every day. A while back the London Middlesex Emergency Services invited me to drive along with the duty officer. The first call to a house where there was a murder slashing to start off my day. Often times the EMS are on the scene before the law enforcement officers arrive on sight. Next we were called to a cardiac arrest patient in the south end. The final emergency call we received in the morning was a carbon monoxide poisoning of a family of five. Off we drove east into the west lanes facing traffic with our lights/ sirens pulsating. I thought for a few minutes that I would die on route to the emergency call.

For the most part the dedicated personal who bare the trauma of taking care of us are just like you and I except they have chosen to take care of our needs before their own. A friend of mine who is a surgeon delayed his vacation with his family because of the dire needs of one of his patients who needed his care.

Last Saturday morning we were on way to the Y when a large SUV passed us into the uncoming traffic. Try and imagine that you are a first responder who receives the call to attend a 911 call of a horrific head on crash. Fire fighters with the Jaws of Life, EMS, police services were on the scene to help in less then five minutes to try and help save a life.

We were very shook up with what we had seen. For the first responders death and destruction often times is constant reality of their job description. We expect our first responders to be available twenty four seven to take care of emergencies. A while back we were awakened at two in the morning at our home by our Carbon Monoxide Monitor. A call to 911 and the volunteer fire department was on the scene in 10 minutes.

Out first responders are not immune to the stress that they experience every day. Post traumatic stress syndrome is real and if not treated with counselling often times has dire consequences. For many care givers it is not if they break down but rather when they succumb to the stress.

A interview with Murray Faulkner, former Chief of the City of London, was very informative. There is a price to be paid when you assume the role of a police officer. Shift work, rotating work schedules with increased staffing for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Eating, sleeping, disorders, loss of friends, divorce are the cost of protecting our community. The stats show us that, one police officer in North America commits suicide every day.

Policing is a chosen way of life not merely an occupation. One’s career/personal lives are always under public scrutiny 365 days a year.

Often times we tend to forget that our first responders are merely mortals and not immune to stress. They too can become victims of their dedication to their work. They too break down and cry when they are faced with yet another matter of life and death

I want to express my thanks to the first responders who selfishly give of themselves.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com