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Local Heroes Program is Featured on Newstalk 1010

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Local Heroes Program was Featured on Newstalk 1010

Our Heroes Program provides 30-day intensive residential treatment for First Responders suffering from addiction and mental health issues at no cost. Up to 50 First Responders will be able to benefit from this program over the next 12 months. Learn more about the Trafalgar Local Heroes Support Program.

Shane Saltzman, the former CEO of Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres, was a guest on The Weekend Morning Show with Dave Trafford on Sunday, November 24, 2019.

They discussed the mental health issues that many First Responders face, and what Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres aims to accomplish with Local Heroes Support Program.

You may listen to the show or read the transcription below:

Transcription of The Radio Show

Dave Trafford: … I was interested to see this story pop up. Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres offers more than a million dollars in free care to First Responders, and while living in hiding in plain view, most of the police officers who line the Santa Claus parade today don’t always have a parade in their life. Day in and day out, same as the firefighters and the ambulance guys and all the men and women who respond to the accidents that we talk about. You know, that takes a toll. I know it takes a toll on journalists. I can’t imagine how it takes a toll on the First Responders.

Dave Trafford: Shane Saltzman is here from the Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres. How are you Shane?

Shane Saltzman: I’m doing great, thanks. How are you doing?

Dave Trafford: I’m OK. And, you know, I made the point that people are kind of hiding in plain sight. I don’t mean that they’re hiding it because they’re ashamed of it. But this is how they live. And we sort of take it for granted. And particularly when it comes to first responders.

Shane Saltzman: I think many are just, as you said, hiding in plain sight and screaming in silence. A lot of them are, you know, 20 years on the job, 10 years on the job, and they’ve never been able to speak out and ask for help. And it’s these constant exposures to traumatic events or just ongoing calls and sometimes just the exposure to verbal abuse that they’re constantly seeing and feeling pain. But it’s inside. You don’t see it physically, but it’s the emotional pain. And it takes a toll on their lives. It takes a toll on letting them sleep at night and with their families. And, you know, they don’t have the ability to go and talk to their supervisor and ask for help just being who they are. They’re told to stand up and stay strong.

Dave Trafford: Well, you know, but that’s been our expectation. And ironically, it’s that’s what we praise them for. We know we often say that when all of us are running away from the emergency or the disaster, they’re running towards it. And that’s why we think they’re great. And so, you know, the irony is for me, anyway, that we’re praising them for doing exactly what they’re having difficulty handling.

Shane Saltzman: But then at the same time, when they come out afterwards and you realize that they’re still human. Where’s all the support for them? They’re getting turned around or turned down for support or they’re putting through a lot of bureaucratic red tape to trying to get help. There’s no funding for their organizations or their associations and their members. And they don’t know where to go or they don’t know who to speak up to. And like I said, they’re screaming silently and don’t know how to actually access help. Or are they allowed to? We see time and time again where different health and wellness reps or association reps or just even officers or nurses, paramedics, whomever calling into us and they can’t get access to help.

Dave Trafford: Yeah. They can’t get access to help because the actual infrastructure isn’t in place to do it or is it a cultural thing, still?

Shane Saltzman: I think there is a combination. One is obviously first that the cultural thing. So one is, you know, can they speak up because the signs are all there. There’s people who would know that they are being impacted emotionally and they do need help. But can they speak up? Who do they speak up to? There’s lots of good people within all the organizations who want to do anything and everything they can to get these people help. But then it becomes part of, you know, whose responsibility is it?

So do they, in fact, have PTSD or are they just struggling with their own mental health issues? And if they don’t have PTSD, well, can they get addiction and not the health support? You know, is there funding again, these are all municipal workers. Or is there funding from the government or through their association to actually pay for me to get help? And once they do get help, is that the right help?

There’s a lot of help out there that is very group based, not very individual focused. That’s not very trauma focused. And one thing that we always in Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers make sure that you treat addiction as though there’s a concurrent disorder. Very evidence-based. Lots of individual therapy. So very trauma and formed focus so that these individuals can actually get the help that they need. It’s not enough to just put people into groups and let them sit there. They actually have to be able to talk about their own anxiety and their mental health and their depression and their and their trauma.

Dave Trafford: The interesting thing to me is and you sort of touched on it here. It’s not even whether or not there is the available programs. It’s the cost of doing it. I don’t think a lot of people realize that unless you have some kind of resource through maybe your union or extended benefits at work, some kind of extra private plan. For example, OHIP isn’t going to cover all of these programs that you might otherwise need. And this is really a health issue that you run into. So then it becomes a matter of cost for a lot of people.

Shane Saltzman: Oh, very much so. It purely becomes a financial thing for many. You know, there are not enough OHIP beds. If there are OHIP beds, they are every institutional at the same time you could have, you know, three, six months, a year waiting list to get in for that bed. And there’s others who think, oh you know, they are a First Responder in a union.

Therefore, they get all that great union support. Well, no, they have their funding that they have to fight for every day’s getting from the government to go and pay for them. There’s very limited resources for them. And, you know, sometimes even just your extended health benefits just cover a room in a licensed hospital. But those aren’t where these people need to be. They need to be in a setting where they can get good help with lots of good therapy. Lots of people that they can talk to really work through their issues. And these places are not there.

Dave Trafford: So that is what’s prompted you guys to launch the Local Heroes Program, then?

Shane Saltzman: That’s exactly it. You know, every week we’re always talking to various association reps, firefighter chiefs, regional municipalities. And we are always being asked how can we help get this person and how can we get them get the help? They’re being caught over there. They’re not getting approved for their funding over there. They’re waiting for their meeting with their psychologists, which might be a few months out. And we just see it time and time again where people are pleading like, what do we do? How can you help us?

We just said, you know what? It’s time! We have to change the conversation. We have to step up and try and make the difference. As a private provider, our hands are tied. We’re able to do what we can. And we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna have started doing it. We are going to give 4 free beds a month, treatment spots at our residential addiction treatment centres for First Responders. So it’s about 50 spots, 50 treatment spots a year, about a million dollars and free support for First Responders. And we have the availability over our 2 residential locations. We have 51 beds and a team of great therapists and psychologists and lots of individual therapy to help step up and do this.

Dave Trafford: So if someone has someone in their family or they themselves want to step up and do that, how do they get in touch with you? What do they do?

Shane Saltzman: Yeah sure. Great question. So on our web site,, we have a Local Heroes page. On that page. There is a link to an application form that we’ll have our own interna panel to review. We have a certain screening criteria that’s set up to help determine and or I’ll say triage and assess the priority need as to eligibility. And people just called directly in and just say, we want to learn more about the Trafalgar’s Local Heroes program and we’ll be happy to review every application, see what we can do to help.

Dave Trafford: Now, is this the first time you guys have done this in this way?

Shane Saltzman: This is the first time that we’ve done this in this way. We’ve always been very community friendly organization. We’ve taken a number of people and at no charge over the years, especially within the First Responders, because it’s the right thing to do. But this is the first time we’ve actually said let’s make a plan and let’s give out X number of spots throughout the year to go and do this, because it’s not enough for us to just do this. The conversation has to change.

Dave Trafford: So, let me suggest that you circle the date about six months from now and you and I will talk again because I’m gonna be interested to see what, first of all, the response is like. And you know what? What the outcomes are here for you. Shane, thanks for joining us.

Shane Saltzman: Thank you very much for having me.

Dave Trafford: Shane Saltzman, he is at the Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres. So the program is called Local Hero Support you can find that at their web site, because there are many among us.

— End of the transcription about Local Heroes Support Program.

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