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The Windsor Essex First Responder Coalition seeks to develop a unified and collaborative approach to building resilience, reducing stigma, and promoting mental wellbeing in First Responders. As a direct result of doing their job, First Responders are at increased risk of experiencing occupational stress and other mental health issues. In recognition of this, the partners work together to develop strategies and programs to address the continuum of mental health issues known to impact First Responders. Learn More >


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Confronted daily with trauma, nurses suffer long-term impacts Author of the article: Julie Kotsis  •  Windsor Star Publishing date: Sep 02, 2020  •  Last Updated 16 hours ago  •  3 minute read Windsor registered nurse Susan Sommerdyk of Ontario Nurses Associaiton is pictured Wednesday. PHOTO BY NICK BRANCACCIO /Windsor Star     For nurses like Susan Sommerdyk, dealing with injury, illness and death on a daily basis is part of the job. And like many frontline health care workers, Sommerdyk knows the heartbreaking circumstances families sometimes face. She’s consoled many in her 38-year career.       2020 PAO Police Services Hero of the Year Awards                 But it wasn’t until one day early in her working life that the trauma became her own. The intensive care unit nurse was sent down to the emergency department to help with three badly injured young children — a common practice when there are multiple trauma patients. Sommerdyk performed CPR on all three but none of them survived their injuries. We do feel it. We don’t just walk away from the job. Afterward, she returned to her regular duties until her shift ended. There was no time to debrief, no one to lean on for support. “And then I had to go home and see my children,” Sommerdyk said. “It was years ago before they really recognized that, you know.” These days, “they do a lot” with debriefing and other  services.   Article content continued “But back then there was a lot of ‘Just suck it up, it’s part of your job,’ kind of thing. It made me struggle for quite a while. “It’s really weird to bring up the subject again (but) it was hard to go back to work and go home and separate the two,” she said. “And you also kind of felt like when you were struggling that there was something wrong with you. Like, everyone else can do it, what’s wrong with you?” Without support services to fall back on, she struggled alone with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and the stigma attached to it at the time. “It took a long time to kind of work through those feelings on my own and even when I talk about it today, it could bring tears to my eyes,” Sommerdyk said. “Thankfully my children are grown now. It was very hard to come home and see my kids of the same age.” With the hope of raising awareness of PTSD among nurses and reminding them that help is available, Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 8 worked with Helios Films to produce a short film titled No Room to Grieve, which showcases the long-term impact of everyday trauma experienced by registered nurses and other health-care professionals while on the job. The film is the culmination of a series of videos produced by ONA Local 8 that have aired in a Windsor movie theatre and online to raise awareness of the workplace violence inflicted on nurses. Sommerdyk, now a co-ordinator for Local 8, said they have also partnered with a number of local health-care organizations, including the Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services, Erie Shores Health Care, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Hiatus House and the Canadian Mental Health Association to pool resources.   Article content continued Windsor registered nurse Susan Sommerdyk of the Ontario Nurses Association is pictured on Wednesday. PHOTO BY NICK BRANCACCIO /Windsor Star The local will also soon launch a webpage dedicated to helping front-line registered nurses access support if they are suffering from PTSD. “If you look at the reasons why people have impact … the most frequent times we see it, it’s usually a physical assault or a death of an individual after we’ve made a lot of effort to save them,” Sommerdyk said, adding “Or a death of someone who reminds you of a family (member) or friend.” A survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions found that 20 per cent of registered nurses suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. “While the public doesn’t always recognize that RNs and health-care professionals are first responders, that is exactly what we are,” said Vicki McKenna, president of ONA, which represents more than 68,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals. “ONA has fought hard to have nurses included in provincial presumptive legislation that recognizes the likelihood of PTSD afflicting first responders and makes it easier to access help,” McKenna said. “This film is a valuable reminder to those suffering in silence that help is available.” MORE ON THIS TOPIC Natyshak pushes for extended WSIB coverage for PTSD sufferers Federal government investing $11 million to study post-traumatic stress injuries among first responders A “teaser” for the film can be viewed at The full short film will be relased Sept. 9 at 2 p.m. on the webpage. “Our hope is to educate people that the person on the other side of that bed is human too,” Sommerdyk said. “We do feel it. We don’t just walk away from the job. “I know that there’s a lot (said) about (nurses being) heroes and stuff (but) the heroes are also humans.” [email protected]  

Thank a First Responder!

August 17, 2020

Thank a First Responder! As part of this years Can-Am Police Fire Games Golf Tournament, we invite you to download and colour a colouring page to thank a first responder! You can also add your own message of thanks. Completed colouring pages can be dropped off at CMHA-WECB, 1400 Windsor Ave., and placed in a designated box just inside our entrance (please wear a mask upon entering the building). Completed pages will be accepted until September 14 and will be turned into an outdoor mural to be displayed at the golf tournament, and at the Games in 2022. 

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2020 Go Green Golf Tournament

September 28, 2020

10:00 am - 07:00 pm

Essex Golf & Country Club

Can-Am Golf Tournament 2020

September 25, 2020

10:00 am - 05:00 pm

Roseland Golf and Curling Club

Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk

September 27, 2020

12:00 am - 11:59 pm


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