Two years in the making, Boots on the Ground (BOTG) held a launch party in Brampton, Ont., at the Peel Regional Police Association on November 23, and it is officially taking calls as of today.
BOTG is completely run and staffed by trained volunteers, said Dave McLennan, the CEO of BOTG and a retired police officer. It provides “anonymous, compassionate and confidential peer support and suicide prevention for first responders throughout Ontario who are seeking help to prevent the development of occupational-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other stress related issues they may encounter.”
“This is pioneering; I haven’t heard of anything else like this anywhere,” said Dr. Vivien Lee, a psychologist and BOTG clinical advisor, during the sold-out launch party.
Wendy Sims, the staff sergeant of organizational wellness at Peel Regional Police, also spoke of the critical need for something like BOTG, along with Bryan Stevens of Frontline Forward, Glenn Cullen of PSHSA (Public Services Health and Safety Association) and Peel Regional Police Deputy Chief Marc Andrews.
“We can’t leave each other in isolation,” Andrews said. “What you’re providing for EMS personnel is a peer support network that will save lives. Thank you to the Boots on the Ground team.”
First responders across Ontario who are looking for peer support are encouraged to call a Boots on the Ground volunteer at 1-833-677-2668 any time.
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