Influx of fatalities on Saskatchewan roads present psychological challenges to first responders | Canadian

Within the last week four separate road accidents in the province have taken the lives of six people.

On July 19, an 18-year-old man from Regina was killed on Highway #18 near Estevan after his car collided with a semi. Then July 25, on Highway #1 near Balgonie, two people were killed in a head on collision between a car and a van. Also on July 25th a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car on Highway #24, north of Pelican Lake First Nation. Lastly , on Tuesday, two more people were killed including a 16-year-old girl after two pickup trucks collided on Highway #11 south of Prince Albert.

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According to RCMP, this year from June 1st to July 27 there have been 19 fatal collisions in the province, compared to 14 during that same time period in 2021. These deaths present challenges for first responders such as rural volunteer firefighters.

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“Because of the nature of what we do, you cant un-see what we see,” says Doug Lapchuk, president of the Saskatchewan Volunteer Firefighters Association.

Lapchuk says with the roads clear and dry people are potentially not paying as much attention. He says in his area of Balgonie where he is also the fire chief, they definitely see a higher number of traumatic crashes during the summer.

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Lapchuk and his volunteer crew were among the first on scene to the July 25 head on collision on Highway #1 that took two lives.

The crew was on scene for almost twelve hours through the night, performing extractions and other duties.

He says responding to traumatic crashes can have many negative psychological affects. His staff have a peer support group they can call when needed.

After responding to the scene on Highway #1, the crew had a three-hour open floor debriefing to share what they saw and express what they were feeling.

“Sometimes you need a hand and that’s what we’re here for. That’s what are peer support group is for. We are not counsellors. We don’t provide counselling. We provide a peer to peer platform to help people along the road to healing,” said Lapchuk.

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