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Walk the Talk: First Responder Peer Support

Walk the Talk provides readers with a thorough and well-structured guide on how to build an effective, complete and credible peer support program for first-responder organizations. It uses 17 evidence-based modules that follow guidelines from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, supported and endorsed by the Mood Disorder Society of Canada.

April 19, 2017  By Tom Rataj

The authors, Brad McKay and Sylvio (Syd) Gravel, are both retired police officers who suffered through years of PTSD after each being involved in serious incidents while working as police officers. When those incidents occurred, there were no formal support programs in place, so they helped get support started. With a combined 55-years of peer-support experience, they have shared their thorough understanding of the topic to help guide organizations through the successful development and implementation of a peer-support program.

They detail compelling evidence on the advantages of peer-support programs, both for individuals and for organizations, and take the reader through a well-structured, step-bystep and chapter-by-chapter explanation of everything required to build a complete peer support program. Their systematic approach helps readers understand that it is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, and guides organizations in a structured fashion with the information, tools and resources they need to establish a program that works well.

The authors discuss the ten key issues which need to be addressed when setting up a program, identifying many of the challenges that may be encountered along the way.

Their program guide also includes how to establish a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team as part of the program and explains how the CISM and peer-support programs should work together to provide a complete solution. Organisational pre-hiring preparedness and members’ family support are also discussed.


Walk the Talk is a valuable resource for all first-responder organizations, whether they have an existing program, or are just starting out with building one.

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