By Patrick Laverick
Paramedics and emergency services have visited Geelong as part of a motorcycle ride across regional Victoria to raise awareness of mental health issues in their field.
The second annual Breakthrough Ride had more than 50 emergency services workers taking part across the week, travelling through towns including Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Wangaratta and Seymour.
The bikers stopped in Geelong on Tuesday afternoon, holding an event with a speaker from Beyondblue and comedian Dave Tulk.
One of the ride’s organisers, paramedic Tim Jobling, said it was important that people were aware of the early warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental issues, with early detection key to their treatment.
“We’re trying to raise awareness for mental health issues in emergency service workers, as well as start a conversation with people so they can discuss it, and give them some ideas of the symptoms in the early stages.
“We’ve lost too many emergency services workers due to PTSD and other mental health issues,” he said.
An estimated 10 per cent of emergency services workers in Australia suffer from symptoms of PTSD, caused by witnessing or experiencing traumatic events.
Norlane paramedic Ian Shoell said the regular exposure to traumatic events had a high impact on their mental health that was hard to avoid.
“I’m 29 years in the job, been a nurse five years before that, you can’t be in this job for too long before getting elements of that,” he said.
The group is also seeking to raise funds to train a PTSD therapy dog to assist emergency services workers in their recovery.