Thunder Bay launches safeTALK program
By Deputy Chief Greg Hankkio
Not talking about it isn’t working! As part of a commitment to provide recommended and current practices for health and wellness, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue (TBFR) administration recently introduced a new level of training aimed at breaking down cultural stigmas that will ultimately provide all personnel with the necessary tools to make themselves, their families and the public safer.
Administered by LivingWorks Education Inc. – a Calgary-based suicide-prevention training company (www.livingworks.net) – SafeTALK is a three-hour training program that prepares firefighters to identify people with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. Delivered over multiple training sessions, the goal of TBFR is to have all of our 213 full-time staff trained. Going forward, SafeTALK will become a mandatory component of TBFR’s recruit firefighter training program.
TBFR personnel will be better able to move beyond very common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid suicide; they will also be trained to be able to better identify people who have thoughts of suicide and to connect a person with thoughts of suicide to a suicide first-aid intervention caregiver.
In a manner that cultivates a culture in which vulnerability is not seen as a weakness, TBFR is taking a proactive and leading role by training and educating staff on topics such as suicide prevention, critical-incident stress management (CISM) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We believe that SafeTalk is the first important step in this process.
TBFR takes the view that SafeTALK training is to suicide what CPR training is to heart attacks. We are taking the first steps toward preventative action. As public servants, firefighters do what it takes to save lives and make our communities safer. We are now providing our staff with additional tools to keep themselves, their families, friends and others safe.