Conference to help first responders who face PTSD

By Spencer Sterritt
October 18, 2016 - 2:00pm Updated: October 18, 2016 - 2:54pm

A local Prince Albert medical training organization wants first responders to know there’s no reason to feel weak or incompetent if they’re suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Operational Stress Injury (OSI).

KPS Medic Ltd. is hosting its PTSD/OSI awareness conference on Saturday, Oct. 22 to provide education and an outlet for those dealing with anxiety and the disruptions it can cause.

Company founder and EMS Karyn Steinke said she organized the conference because PTSD and OSI doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

“I’ve had some dear friends who needed the support and maybe not had it,” she said. “We need to make people aware that you’re not crazy if you do suffer OSI or PTSD. It means you’ve seen a lot of things that you need help dealing with.”

Four events are planned for the conference.

Edmonton paramedic and firefighter Daniel Sundahl will speak about how he’s used art to cope with his PTSD. Steinke said his vivid paintings have helped raise significant awareness about the effects of PTSD and he currently tours the country with his presentation.

Two speakers will help sufferers understand how peer support groups work and how they can reach out for the help they need.

Barry Salmond will discuss critical incident stress management and how to cope, while an OSI-Canada peer support group will show attendees how to express themselves when they feel they can’t speak to their bosses about their affliction.

To finish the conference, attendees will take part in some light and fun yoga, run by Allyson Marcotte of Laughter Yoga.

Steinke said the plan is to end on a relaxing note and research shows yoga greatly benefits those suffering from PTSD and anxiety.

Initial seats at the conference are full, but Steinke said late registration will be available at the door.

Tickets can be found online.

-with files from Nigel Maxwell

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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

Editor's note: This article was changed to remove the word 'oil' after clarification of what Sundahl paints.

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