By: Lucia Lecuna
Is Canada adapting to the changing face of health and safety? Canada is one of the most regulated and safety-conscious countries in the world, crisis, accidents, serious injuries and even death, should be rare.
In reality, life-changing medical accidents, workplace mishaps and psycho-social tragedies, like violence and self-harm are not diminishing. Despite a national increase in training for first-responder safety skills, crisis intervention and sensitivity training workplace accidents continue to occur.
As a new Canadian, I admire the safe model Canada has developed in any field that involves humans, nature, law and industry. As a researcher, I wanted to find someone who could respond to my questions. I searched and found Alec Gardner, Clinical Director for Stratford Health Support. He has analyzed from a Sociological and Scientific approach, modern health and safety issues related to workplace.
When interviewing him I found out that he wrote for the Ontario Association of Psychotherapists. In his research, he discovered an increase in aggressive posturing and risk-taking, both at work and in the community. He found bullying tactics, desensitization and other disturbing trends across society in his findings. Gardner explained, “I also examine how emotional stress can be a direct threat to physical health and safety. Consider an angry worker going to his job after fierce argument with his partner; this situation of underlying domestic unrest is weighing on his mind throughout the day, and later in the afternoon, distracted by his morning altercation, he ends up rushing, and gets his hand caught in an industrial saw. This in turn requires emergency First Aid and results in many other problems including lost work time and frustration. While this is a bit of a contrived example, you can see where I am going with it.”
I asked Alec, “Do you, as a professional safety trainer in CPR, First Aid and Crisis Intervention, feel that increasing levels of legislation requiring people to take physical and social safety trainings is effective? Are you disappointed with the results?”
He replied, “Not at all. The numbers of accidents, injuries and other dangerous events is probably more reflective of our population simply becoming so much larger, especially in Ontario. In fact, there is more need now, with an aging population displaying cardio-vascular, diabetic, dementia-congruent health problems. Today, more than ever before, training in core safety skills, like CPR and First Aid is needed. I would strongly recommend that people also look for training in a Non-Violent Crisis Prevention and Intervention Course.”
Through my research I found that one of his most recognized courses is Crisis Prevention and Intervention. According to Alec, this blends his love of psychologically pro-active safety measures with concrete tactics to re-stabilize any situation that may have gotten out of hand. Alec recently had an article published in The Crisis Prevention Institute’s magazine Supportive Stance. In the article he describes the mind of someone who has lost control, describing in detail why it is medically safer to keep a hands-off policy in place.
“What individuals, agencies and companies need these days is safety training and preparedness assistance solutions that are reasonably priced, time flexible and geared to their needs. Though I started in the caring professions back in 1979, it wasn’t until recently, actually in the past ten years that I have taken my training to areas including hospitality, manufacturing and administration.” he explained.
I continued my interview and I learned that like most people in the caring professions, and like most Instructors, he didn’t get into this business to make a fortune.
Alec joked. “I often found myself loading my teaching equipment into my old car and going to meet the people needing training where they were located, keeping mileage and fees as moderate as I could.” For Alec, this was about improving physical and emotional safety and well-being; for without those core hierarchies in place, people cannot develop and grow in other areas of their lives.
Alec offers ‘geared-to-income’ counseling through his Stratford Health Support.
Many people out there in immediate crisis may not have:
• The money for expensive psychotherapy
• The time to sit on a waiting list for several months
Alec tries to get his referrals in as fast as he can so that he can do, at least, a basic assessment and treatment triage.
I asked him what his reaction would be if a client had no money. “That’s what ‘geared-to-income’ would mean.” he said. That sounds like pro bono to me.
I left Alec after wading through a massive file folder of unsolicited Letters of Appreciation from those he has helped pro bono over the years. I saw that these letters were predominantly for his work in therapy.
There were other letters thanking him for providing free community CPR courses for organizations and associations.
Alec Gardner nourishes the needs of his clients with energy and strength, doing the work he loves, helping when and where he can.
For more information, please visit: http://www.stratfordhealth.com or visit Alec’s LinkedIn profile.