The Invisible Injuries of First Responders

First responders are rewarded for their bravery, courage and effort towards keeping our communities safe. They are faced with extreme situations which can sometime result in personal injury. We often recognize their physical injuries such as broken bones or cuts and bruises ­but we tend to forget about the injuries first responders may face to their mental well-being.

Research has shown that first responders including paramedics, police and firefighters have a greater risk for Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with statistics showing that an estimated 22% of all paramedics may develop PTSD (Suicide Info).  

Today is World Mental Health Day. We’d like to encourage you to make yourselves aware of the signs and symptoms related to PTSD and ASD.

Know the signs

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD and ASD will help you better identify and support yourself, your coworkers or your loved ones. Some common symptoms and behaviours include:

  • Dissociation from the self - emotional numbing, reduced awareness of one's surroundings, depersonalization, amnesia
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event (spontaneous memories; flashbacks)
  • Avoiding distressing thoughts, feelings, or external reminders of the event
  • Blaming self or others due to distorted sense of reality
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Inability to remember key aspects of the traumatic event
  • Aggressive, reckless, or self-destructive behavior
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hyper-vigilance

Source: Suicide Info.

Where to go for help

Check out the resources below to learn where you can to turn for help:

Suicide prevention

  • Find a local crisis centre here.  

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

  • Find mental health information, tools and resources here. 

  • Canada’s primary source of information on government and community based health and social services

Mental Health First Aid

  • The MHFA Canada program aims to improve mental health literacy, and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague
  • Call toll free: 1-866-989-3985

Drugs and Alcohol Helpline

  • Call toll free: 1-800-565-8603

For more, visit Global News resources.

Know of other helpful mental health resources? Share them with us on Twitter at @SPS_SEMS.

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What do you know about concussions?

The summer has come to an end, kids are back in school and team sports are starting up again. Along with the risk of various other injuries, concussions are a frequent concern for individuals playing sports. Concussions can happen in a variety of different ways and the effects can vary for every person.

Determining whether or not you’ve had a concussion can be difficult. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms to ensure a better road to recovery. The following graphics from Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital provide information on what concussions are, signs and symptoms and how to best support yourself or your loved ones for recovery.

What is a concussion?

What are the signs and symptoms?

How can you recover from a concussion?

Educate yourself to make this upcoming school year a fun and safe time for you, your kids and those you care for!


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Bicycling Street Smarts 101

The summer weather is not over yet and there’s still lots of time to put your bike to use! Whether you use your bike to commute to work, for exercise, or just for fun, road safety rules are essential to know for safe bike riding.

Around 7,500 Canadian cyclists are seriously injured on their bikes every year (CAA). Biking is both environmentally and economically friendly, however without knowledge of safe riding rules, it can be dangerous for both the riders and other drivers on the road.  Here are some bike safety tips from Greatist to help keep you and your loved ones safe:

Rules of the Road

  • Bike on the road in the same direction as traffic. Even though they lack a motor, bicycles are considered road vehicles just like cars and trucks.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs, and obey other traffic signs (i.e. one-way street, yield, etc.), just like you would in a car.
  • Use marked bike paths or lanes when they’re available.

Safety Gear

Prepare yourself with the following pieces of safety equipment before starting your ride:

  • Helmet
  • Bell or horn
  • White headlight and red taillight when riding around sunrise, sunset, or at night
  • Working brakes
  • Reflectors on the front and back of the bicycle

Good Habits for Busy Streets

  • Put down the phone. We shouldn’t even need to say this, but talking on the phone, texting, or checking Instagram while biking are major no-nos. Also refrain from listening to headphones because they can make it more difficult to hear approaching cars and pedestrians.
  • Ride in a straight line.
  • Stay on the right side of the lane, in a single-file line with other cyclists (not two or three abreast). If the street is too narrow for cars to pass, cyclists are allowed to ride in the middle of the lane to increase visibility. Keep an eye out for parked cars (or rather, doors from parked cars opening into the street).
  • Stay out of drivers’ blind spots, especially at traffic lights or stop signs.
  • Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
  • Signal well and make eye contact with drivers before making a turn or slowing down.
  • Stay visible. Wear bright colours for daytime riding and reflective materials for night.
  • Consider sporting a mirror to keep track of cars behind you.
  • Travel with a mini tool kit. If your trek is more than 10 minutes or down a lonely stretch of road, you’ll thank us. Take the time to learn how to do a few quick repairs in advance of any big rides so you don’t get stranded!

And lastly, don’t forget to have fun! Biking is all about enjoying the great outdoors, so don't forget to smile while you signal.

Happy cycling!

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Paramedic Services Week

Enhancing care - Changing lives

Happy Paramedic Services Week! This week we celebrate the outstanding paramedics at Spectrum Patient Services and Spectrum Event Medical Services. Surveys have shown that paramedics are some of the most trusted health care professionals, and we are very thankful for all the support they provide our clients and community.

To celebrate Paramedic Services Week, we are sharing safety tips and fact sheets on a variety of different health topics. Check out these resources to help keep yourself and those around you safe from common injuries and accidents:

From Paramedic Chiefs of Canada:

  • Heat Related Illness – as temperatures warm up, use this resource to help keep you safe from heat stroke and exhaustion
  • Burns and Scalds – learn about prevention and first aid for burns
  • Bicycle helmet safety- head injuries are a leading cause of serious injuries, use these tips to find the right helmet for you

From American College of Emergency Physicians:

Throughout the week, there are a variety of events and activities that you can join across the country to celebrate Paramedic Services Week. Remember to take the time this week to thank paramedics who have helped you or your loved ones. Show your appreciation to the dedicated paramedics who support our communities!

If you’re on social media, be sure to follow the hashtag #psweek2016 to share any other safety resources you have. Also remember to follow Spectrum Patient Services and Spectrum Event Medical Services’ TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn profiles (EMSSPS) to learn more interesting and relevant information throughout the week, including Did You Know facts about paramedics.

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Ontario Announces New PTSD Strategy for First Responders

Province Focuses on Prevention, Reducing Stigma

February 1, 2016 11:30 A.M.

Ministry of Labour

Ontario is putting in place a number of new initiatives to help prevent or mitigate the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders.  

Evidence shows that first responders such as police personnel, firefighters and paramedics are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD, due to the risk of routine exposure to traumatic stressors.

The province's prevention strategy has four major elements:

  • The creation of a radio and digital campaign aimed at increasing awareness about PTSD amongst first responders, their families and communities and eliminating the stigma that too often prevents those in need from seeking help
  • An annual leadership summit to be hosted by the Minister of Labour to highlight best practices, recognize leaders, and monitor progress in dealing with PTSD
  • A free online toolkit with resources on PTSD tailored to meet the needs of employers and each of the first responder sectors
  • Grants for research that supports the prevention of PTSD.


Ensuring employers have the resources they need to improve mental health supports is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan. 

Quick Facts

  • PTSD involves clinically significant distress and impairment to functioning, and the development of certain types of symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events. It can include painful flashbacks, nightmares, outbursts, thoughts of suicide and feelings of worry, guilt or sadness.
  • On March 5, 2015, Ontario hosted the Summit on Work Related Traumatic Mental Stress. The province’s strategy builds on the dialogue and feedback from the Summit.

Link to original source:


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5 Things You Didn't Know Were Risks for at Home Seniors

According to the CBC, as much as 83 per cent of seniors want to stay in their homes and remain independent for as long as possible.

Who can blame them?

When seniors can retain their independence and live at home longer, it has a great impact on their mental health. Studies have shown that when seniors stay in their homes for longer, they enjoy a better quality of life. They recover faster and have a more positive outlook on aging compared to those in long-term care facilities. Home based care can normalize the aging process making it easier on our loved ones.  

The comfort that our loved ones enjoy while living at home has wonderful benefits. However, there are things you need to consider to ensure the home environment is a safe one.

 Here is what you might not have considered when “seniorizing” the home.


The kitchen is a hotspot for accidents; the good thing is that they are easily preventable.

Make sure all hot-water pipes are covered.

Ensure your Carbon-monoxide sensor is working.

Store sharp knives in one easy to reach place. E.g. a magnetic rack.

Exchange old kettles for new kettles with an automatic shut off feature.


Living spaces

Have nightlights in all hall ways.

Tape down the edges of any mats or carpets to reduce tripping hazards.

Remove any cords or furniture from walking ways.

Use non-slip wax on floors and stairs.



Equip your tub with quality skid-proof and non-slip bottom.

Label cold and hot faucets clearly.

Install reputable bath aids (handles, bars, soap dispensers, etc.)

Have a door that can be unlocked from both sides.


A vast majority of seniors thrive when they are able to maintain their independence in the places they call home. With these simple modifications, you can help ensure your loved one can still be independent while remaining safe.  

Do you have a loved one living independently, but may need some extra assistance with homemaking? Check out our personalized home making services at Spectrum Health Care or our companion care services at Seniors for Seniors for ways we can help.                                                                                                                                         

Further reading:

Making your home fall proof

Elder Home Safety Checklist

How to Choose Between Home Health Care, Assisted Living, and a Nursing Home

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Avoid a driving disaster – 6 secrets every driver ought to know

Did you know that the two busiest highways in North America are Highway 401 and Highway 400? Every year, these highways carry over 500,000 vehicles daily. In Ontario, passenger vehicles make up 76% of all registered vehicles in the province. 

We know that some accidents can’t be avoided, and a large part of sharing the road is putting your trust in other drivers. Here are 6 proven ways you can keep yourself and your fellow roadsters alive.

1. Put down your phone, GPS, laptop and leave the radio alone

Studies have shown that even a self-proclaimed multitasking expert will increase their chances of a collision by 23 times if texting behind the wheel. Distracted can hinder your reaction time as much as driving intoxicated.

2. Make Buckling Up a habit

A seatbelt is one of the most basic and effective tools for saving a life. Seatbelts have been shown to reduce serious crash-related injuries and death by 50 per cent. Make buckling up a driving habit

3. Beware of High Risk Drivers

High-risk drivers can range from overly aggressive drivers, drivers with missing lights, or anyone who does not seem attentive to road markings or speed limits. It’s best to keep these drivers a safe distance in front of you, not behind you!

4. Eye lead is everything

Drivers Ed 101 tells us that eye lead is a main skill for defensive and attentive driving. It means that as a driver, you’re always looking at the road ahead making you better prepared for any road obstructions, pedestrians or emergency vehicles.

5. Check your fluids

Having your vehicle's fluids topped up will have an effect on how well your car can handle a collision, or avoid one. Brake fluid, coolant and power steering are easy to check and can help your car respond better in risky situations. Click here to find out when you should check and change your fluids.

6. Never drive tired

Drowsy driving is much more dangerous than we think. In Ontario, 26 per cent of all fatal and injury crashes are shown to be linked to drowsy driving. Some signs include zoning out while driving, excessive yawning, inconsistent speed, missing road signs (stop, yield, etc). If you feel any of the following, avoid driving.

We all have an equal responsibility for keeping our roads safe. Make sure you’re doing your part.


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How to completely SELL OUT your event: 5 guaranteed rules

Who doesn’t want a sold out event? A dream is a dream until you make it happen – here are a couple tips to get your event at maximum capacity.

1. Reward last events attendees

According to, the first thing you should do, if the event is a regular thing, is entice your previous attendees. Given that the previous event wasn’t a disaster, last year’s attendees are your biggest supporters. Anything from offering small incentives for early registration, to giving out special perks, its likely to start your sales in the right direction – up.

2.  Ramp up the quality content

There is nothing more buzz-killing than rewritten and uninspiring content. Regardless of the type of event, there’s always ways to engage your audience with high quality material. Anything from creative invitations to thought-provoking social media posts can be incorporated into your marketing plan.

3. Team up and rock out!

Call on like-minded industry friends. Partnerships are a great way to get the word out and create buzz around your event. Not only are you using each other to tap into your own trusted audiences, but partnerships can open the door for other inspiring ideas and priceless resources.

4. Create a buzz

Anyone who says they don’t like surprises is lying. People love suspense and mystery. That’s why the marketing campaigns that leave the audience hanging usually are the most effective. Giving the audience clues about your event ramps up the excitement and that usually translates into ticket sales. There are many ways to create a buzz, check out this great list here.   

5. Different tickets for different event parts

Breaking-up your event into segments is a great way to accommodate those who can’t attend the entire event and drive ticket sales. For example, you can issue tickets to the networking + Hors D’oeuvre, the main event or the after party. Attendees don’t have to decline and invite because they can’t stay for the entire 6 hours, they can attend a specific segment and leave. Not only do you look thoughtful, but it’s a win-win.


Let’s face it, hosting an event is a lot of hard work and the creativity sometimes gets lost in the logistics. However a sure way to re-ignite that flame is to ask yourself; “what would get me excited?” or “what was the best event I attended and why?”

Happy planning.

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Back to school driving Dos and Don’ts

As September rolls in, it’s always good to do a mini check in with your driving routine; your summer habits behind the wheel may need some regulating as back to school season is underway. Many people unknowingly pick up bad driving habits during the summer months that may limit their attentiveness on the road. Something as simple as playing loud music could have a considerable impact on someone’s reaction time!

Children don’t have a lot of experience sharing the road with moving cars, drivers have to be extra cautious when navigating residential and school areas. This means ignoring any distractions inside the car and keeping your focus on everything outside of the car.

Here are a couple friendly reminders to fine tune your driving skills to be school zone friendly.

Sharing the road with our little pedestrians

  • Always be aware of school crossing zones and cross walks.
  • Take a little extra time at stop signs and make sure your checking all blind spots.
  • Always be aware of j-walkers and your surroundings.

Sharing the road with school buses

  • School buses, unlike their city counterparts, require drivers to yield and stop, regardless of the direction you are traveling in.
  • When stopped, there should be at least 10 feet between you and the bus.
  • Never pass a school bus with its stop arm out and lights flashing.

Driving in a school zone

  • School zone speed limits start at 40 kms in residential and urban school zones. In rural areas they are up to 100 kms. Always be aware of signage.
  • Always remember that if the speed limit is not posted, it means 50 kms maximum


Back to school means many young pedestrians on the road and increased chances of automobile collisions. Help keep our roads safe by doing your part. Always be alert behind the wheel, and stay up to date on traffic regulations.  


Here are some quick tips from the Peel Regional Police:

  • Be aware of school zone signage.
  • Reduce speed in school zones.
  • Be ready to stop at all times.  Children do not always notice oncoming traffic.
  • Always try to make eye contact with children waiting to cross the road.
  • Be patient and wait for children to complete their crossing before proceeding.
  • Stop when directed to do so by a crossing guard.

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Spectrum Patient Services Employees Demonstrate Act of Heroism

At Spectrum Patient Services are employees are the corner stone of our business. Their dedication and commitment to the care of our clients is a key component to our delivery of client centred care. 

On August 8, 2015 two of our employees Ken L. and Rick V. demonstrated their dedication to the safety and care of others in an act of sheer heroism.   

Below is a statement from a bystander who witnessed their great act of bravery.   

I am writing to address what I witnessed and what I would call an act of heroism provided by three*  of your employees on the morning of August 8, 2015 around 2am on the QEW near Fifty road.

I hope by now you have already received the news from somewhere about this and not hearing about this for the first time from myself.

I personally work in one of the nursing homes in Oakville as a PSW and have seen your trucks couple of times.  I understand that Spectrum Patient Service is a non-emergency patient transfer company and that you guys have no affiliation or obligation to respond to 911 calls.

On Saturday August 8, 2015 at around 2Am I was driving not far behind a car that got into an accident, although I did not really see how the accident happened, I sure did see the result of it.  I pulled over immediately and stopped along with maybe 8 other cars and from what we could see from a distance away, the car that was involved had caught on fire seconds after it crashed into an 18 wheeler.  The car was completely destroyed with car parts and pieces spreading all across the highway.  It was a very horrific scene to have witnessed.

I along with the other people that got out of our cars, wanted to help but was too scared to run across the highway while other cars were still rushing by and surely we did not have the courage to run into a burning car, even though one of us had a fire extinguisher.

Unfortunately I did not have a chance to get any of the names of these three employees of yours: one was a young man in his mid 20's, Asian background, the other gentlemen was probably in his early 50's wearing a baseball hat with long hair.  The third one is a mid age lady in her late 30's to early 40's, blonde highlights hair, wearing a nurse uniform.

All three of them were just passing by and came across the accident scene maybe a minute after it just happened.

I thought I saw an ambulance and I was going to start waving for help and then I realize it was a spectrum truck and I even told the other bystanders that they are not an ambulance they only do transfers as they were pulling over to the right shoulder and what seems like they were slowly driving pass the accident scene.  Which to my surprise they stopped abruptly and all three of them rushed out and quickly put out the burning car and pull the guy out of the car and started doing CPR.

It felt like 10 minutes have gone by since these individuals jumped out of their truck and offered help before another ambulance showed up. Unfortunately the individual did not make it according to the newspaper but if he had any chance of surviving the horrible accident, it would have been because of these three individuals.

After witnessing what these three individuals did without hesitation, putting their own lives in danger, trying to put out the fire, pulling the guy out of that car and doing CPR, etc. I almost felt ashamed for doubting these heroic individuals in the first place while I uselessly stand on the side of the highway too afraid to go in and help.

Spectrum Patient Services offers its deepest condolences to the family of the individual involved in the accident, our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

*Note: Of the three individuals, two were Spectrum Patient Services employees. The other was a nurse from a hospital who does not work for Spectrum Patient Services.  

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