Opinion

Today’s letters: Let’s support the mental health of our first responders

Tuesday, May 5: You can write to us too, at letters@ottawacitizen.com

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Applause to our first responders

It was considered a “quiet” shift; one where few calls came in for the Ottawa paramedic crew I was riding along with during an overnight shift. It was pre-pandemic, and the calls included a child struggling to breathe, an elderly woman who had collapsed, a man who passed away, and a homeless man who refused to accept the crew’s offer of medical assistance. Even on this “quiet” night, the crew witnessed things most of us never see, and never wish to see.

On Saturday, we recognized National First Responders Day and the exemplary efforts made by those who keep us safe and healthy. As a city, we must not only recognize, but also support the mental health needs of Ottawa’s first responders.

Traditionally, first responders and their families have tried to cope with the mental health impacts of the job by supporting each other. For the past five years, Ottawa’s paramedics have joined with paramedics across North America to hold the Capital-to-Capital Ride.

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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Ride organizers have moved online with a “Movement Is Medicine Campaign” to raise awareness of the mental health issues experienced by all first responders. The campaign encourages physical activity and provides access to self-care and mental health resources. The two-week campaign runs from May 3-16 online at firstrespondersarehuman.com.

First Responders are regularly confronted with tragedy and human anguish. They face this willingly, knowing it is part of the job. We thank them for their selfless acts of bravery and sacrifice and recommit our support to them.

Laura Dudas, deputy mayor and councillor, Innes Ward

Osteopaths must be allowed to practise

Since December, Osteopathic manual practitioners (OMPs) have been prohibited from treating people, risking their patients’ continual deterioration and suffering. These patients can’t comprehend why the Ontario government considers us non-essential. Especially because OMPs have been approved as high priority front-line workers for vaccination purposes.

From the time COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the scientific community has fought for decisions based on rigorous evidence, yet Ontario has not offered any reliable data connecting a COVID outbreak to an OMP. Meanwhile patients awaiting cancelled elective surgeries continue to suffer and face months of ongoing pain while unable to see their OMP.

Unlike Ontario, patients in other provinces can receive osteopathic care. Osteopathy is considered essential in Quebec and New Brunswick and named in the government response to COVID in Manitoba.

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The Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO) fosters the practice and professional advancement of osteopathy by promoting the highest standards of education, training, safety and ethical practice. We’ve developed rigorous protocols to protect against the transmission of the virus.  Excluding us from the essential services list is harmful. We ask the chief medical officer of health to discuss with us how OMPs can ease patient suffering and allow us to help support our fragile health care system.

Catherine Cabral-Marotta, president of the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO)

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