Every day in Ontario, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and other first responders answer to thousands of calls for assistance. They bravely go into situations that most people would flee from. In doing this, first responders provide often-lifesaving assistance to people who—mostly unexpectedly—find themselves in need. The demands, environment, and conditions of their jobs lead to unique challenges that are only starting to come to the public’s attention.
At DSF, we have lawyers who are former first responders—for example, I myself am still a paramedic. We have identified that, in addition to the legal problems anyone can face, first responders have their own particular legal issues. In response, DSF has started a special practice group to address the unique legal needs of first responders. We see some of these in the following areas:
Work-place injuries related to mental health. These—which include PTSD, depression and anxiety—can affect many aspects of their lives: for example, creating insurance issues or seriously impacting interactions with others.
Issues around human rights and workplace accommodations. These are related to the unique job conditions of first responders.
Family law issues. Working a mentally demanding job day and night and on weekends and holidays can create difficulties in parenting and relationships with spouses, and can also lead to unique income issues.
Regulatory issues. These arise because many first responders have both employers and other oversight organizations.
The different perspectives on what is “important” and what is an “emergency”. This is an especially significant issue when dealing with various legal demands.
DSF recognizes the tremendous sacrifices first responders make to help others. In our efforts to support them, DSF’s First Responders’ Group has lawyers dedicated to helping paramedics, fire fighters, police officers and other first responders. Our lawyers proudly wear #ivegotyourback911 hoodies and support the Tema Conter Memorial Trust—Canada’s leading provider of support for public safety and military personnel dealing with operational stress and PTSD.
DSF recognizes the importance of helping the first responders who help us. As someone tweeted under the #ivegotyourback911 hashtag:
“We must keep pushing. We must have our stories heard. When you wear our shirts and hoodies or wristbands or sport our stickers … wear them proud and when people ask what it means … you tell them … tell them with all of your heart and soul that what is happening to us is NOT okay … you tell them that we have lost over 50 people since May/14. You tell them that we are a family and family sticks together. You tell them that we are dying because we spend our lives helping others … #ivegotyourback911”
To learn more about the unique challenges first responders face helping others, visit
www.ivegotyourback911.com For legal information designed for first responders, go to: www.devrylaw.ca/first-responders.