About Caring for the Paramedic Community

Caring for the Paramedic Community is a unique and free resource developed specifically to assess, protect and promote psychological health and safety in paramedic service organizations.

Regardless of profession or sector, protection and promotion of mental health in the workplace is imperative. However, paramedic settings can be particularly challenging environments. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is committed to broadening the awareness and importance of workplace psychological health and safety within the paramedic sector across Canada.

The National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety (the Standard) identifies a set of workplace psychosocial factors that contribute to, or threaten, the psychological health and safety of the Canadian workforce. In addition to these, paramedic organizations have unique psychological risks and opportunities. Appropriately measuring these psychological risks and relevant indicators has been identified as a significant challenge within the sector. This is reflected in the recent Psychological Health and Safety in the Paramedic Service Organization (the Paramedic Standard) released by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) in 2018. Commissioned by the Paramedic Association of Canada and developed by CSA Group with funding from Ontario's Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program, the Standard offers sector-specific guidance for developing and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. The Paramedic Standard is designed to protect and promote the psychological health and safety of paramedic service organization personnel which includes, but is not limited to, paramedics, fleet/logistics employees, communication officers and administrative workers. In response to this need, the MHCC, along with experts in the paramedic community, commissioned a project to develop customized tools to assess workplace psychological health and safety in the Canadian paramedic sector and to implement the Standard.

Following a review of the relevant literature, incorporation of findings from related projects and consultation with paramedic representatives, two tools have been created: the Organizational Review for Paramedic Organizations (ORPO) and the Psychosocial Survey of Paramedic Organizations (PSPO).

Relevant terms used in these tools include:

  • Communication officer – a professional telecommunicator, such as a dispatcher or call-taker, tasked with the gathering of information related to medical emergencies, the provision of assistance and instructions by voice and the dispatching and support of EMS resources responding to an emergency call.
  • Critical Event – an event or series of events that has a stressful impact enough to overwhelm the usually effective coping skills of either an individual or a group.
  • Paramedic – a healthcare professional, providing primarily pre-hospital emergency medical assessment and care to individuals with illness or injuries.*
  • Paramedic Service Organization (PSO) – an organization or agency providing emergency and non-emergency paramedic care and public safety, including dispatch services, to individuals in the areas they serve.
  • Psychosocial Risk Factors – hazards including elements of the work environment, management practices and/or organizational dimensions that increase the risk to health.
  • Worker – a person employed by an organization or a person under the day-to-day control of the organization, whether paid or unpaid, which includes employees, supervisors, managers, leaders, contractors, service providers, volunteers, students, or other stakeholders actively engaged in undertaking activities for benefit to the organization.

*1) In some provinces, hospitals and industrial settings also employ paramedics. 2) In Canada there are many titles describing the role of a paramedic. The national occupational competency profile for paramedics fall into the following categories: a) emergency medical responder (EMR); b) primary care paramedic (PCP); c) advanced care paramedic (ACP); and d) critical care paramedic (CCP). For more information on the national occupational competency profile, see paramedic.ca. 3) The definition of a paramedic can be defined by legislation in certain jurisdictions in Canada. It is the user’s responsibility to determine how applicable legislative requirements relate to this Standard.


The Mental Health Commission Of Canada

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change, collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Its goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

The Mental Health Commission Of Canada

Vancouver Psych Health + Safety was created by psychologists Dr. Merv Gilbert and Dr. Dan Bilsker, who are leading experts in workplace psychological health and safety in Canada. They believe that psychologically healthy and safe organizations are more productive, engaging and resilient. They participate in national initiatives and conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and provide services and customized resources that are cost-effective, easily accessible and solidly based in evidence.

The Mental Health Commission Of Canada

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is Canada's national resource for the advancement of workplace health and safety, and provides credible information, education and innovative solutions to promote the total well-being and to create positive change in the lives of working people in Canada. CCOHS operates, hosts and maintains the Caring for the Paramedic Community resource.