A compassionate stranger will make a big impact on the mental health of Simcoe County paramedics.
Just before Christmas, Simcoe County Paramedic Services director and chief Andrew Robert got a call from someone who had used the paramedic services, and was so touched by the treatment they received, the person decided to make a $100,000 donation to support paramedics.
“I was contacted out of the blue by a person who had used our services. They’d had a bad stretch,” said Robert. “Their feedback was that the paramedics treated them like gold every time they saw them.”
“They were just touched by it and they wanted to do something to help the paramedics,” he said.
Robert said the donor talked with him about reports in the media concerning the mental health of paramedics, and wanted the money to go toward providing more supports.
“There are lots of responders struggling with mental health issues and looking for mental health supports, and they thought that would be a good use of the funds,” he said.
The donor made it clear they wished to remain anonymous.
“We’re very grateful that they wanted to do that,” said Robert.
Robert said the money will be placed in an interest-bearing reserve fund rather than all spent right away as therapies and needs evolve over time. Some of the uses currently being considered are staff training, therapy dog and equine programs.
A team of county staff comprised of staff from paramedic services, performance quality and development and human resources will undertake research and deliberations to best utilize available funds.
In the meantime, council committee of the whole voted on Tuesday to allow up to $10,000 of the fund to be used 2020. The decision will still have to be ratified at their next council meeting on Jan. 28.
“We wanted to make sure we kept our options open,” said Robert, adding they don’t want to spend the money all in one place. “Then it can help more people down the line.”
“We want to get some programming in place as soon as we can,” he added.