What is your role with COAST?
I have been a paramedic for 15 years, and I am the primary COAST paramedic member and work alongside LPS Officer Fraser. We have already become best friends and have exchanged granola recipes!
Tell us about your career.
What interested me in joining COAST was the ability to work with participants one on one and develop a rapport in the community and a therapeutic relationship between our team and the community. I found as paramedic, we were dealing a lot with individuals living with chronic and acute mental health crises, and unfortunately our time with each individual ran short. We were not able to follow-up and despite wanting to know their welfare, it was often never known after we helped them.
Working with COAST means that four different organizations are collaborating together to form this team with a range of different experiences. We have Mental Health RN’s from St. Joseph’s, Social Workers from CMHA, LPS and MLPS. Our education backgrounds are all different, our lived and learned experiences are all different, but we all have a common goal in mind…helping individuals who fall through the cracks of the poorly laid out welfare system.
What interested you about working on the COAST team?
As as COAST member, I hope to develop positive relationships with many clinical practitioners and police, as well as the individuals we will serve. COAST is a team that wants to be proactive in the community vs being reactive. We want to help individuals living with mental illness and addictions before the crisis occurs. Decreasing the use of 911, and turning an individuals attention to other resources such as ours. With this program being brand new, we have already experienced many positive outcomes since the beginning of April. I am so hopeful and excited to see what else this team can do. I look forward to helping the individuals, as well as our Emergency Frist Response partners.
What benefits do you hope this program will provide to the community and to vulnerable populations?
I obtained my Social Work degree in 2018, and will be starting my Masters of Social Work in September. I find that combining my social work education with my paramedic experience has drastically improved my lens in how I view individuals around me. I feel like I have become a better paramedic with this learned experience. I look forward to future possibilities on this team being a paramedic/social worker.
What do you do to support your own mental health and wellness?
I have 2 dogs and 3 hairless cats and at this stage in my life, they are my family. Pets are so wonderful and show unconditional love. After a stressful, bad day, being at home in my own little bubble with my pets is very therapeutic for me. I also love renovations and landscaping. Many dollars are spent at Heemans and Home Depot. These are things I do to maintain my mental health. I also strongly encourage anyone and everyone to get a counsellor/therapist they trust and keep them! Just talking to someone monthly is so soothing to the soul.