Caption of Peel Paramedics, Joshua Pound
Joshua PoundImage by: Max Rosenstein
Caption of Peel Paramedics, Joshua Pound
10 November 2021

Mo Bro Joshua Pound On COVID-19 Impacts on Paramedics

5 minutes read time

For Joshua Pound, Captain of the Peel Paramedics and Movember supporter for over a decade, COVID-19 has been a strain on mental and physical health, to say the least.

Joshua sat down with us in the barber chair to share with us lessons learned on the importance of communication with others, challenges faced as a paramedic, the motivation to participate in Movember and much more.

When was the moment you knew that you wanted to be a paramedic?

I have wanted to be a paramedic my entire life. My father was a paramedic and one of my grandfathers was a paramedic as well. I always felt this was a good fit for me as I thrive in changing environments and I really enjoy helping people and hopefully even making them smile.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your life? How did you overcome them?

Most of my most challenging moments have involved paramedicine either directly or indirectly. No one calls paramedics because they are having a good day, so knowing that every single time we are called we are going to be exposed to pain and suffering in some form or another is very challenging.

While some people are able to go to work then go home and leave their work at work, that is not the case for paramedics. Late nights, poor eating habits, mental and physical exhaustion all take a toll on us as paramedics and consequently, our families feel it too.

For me, this has been at least somewhat mitigated with incredible amounts of communication with friends and family and a lot more patience and understanding from them, and with myself. I am a big advocate for mindfulness and encourage anyone I can to have the courage and reach out for help when you need it - it is there, we just have to have faith that there are those who will help us.

What’s your motivation for doing Movember?

I started with Movember about 13 years ago originally because I felt that, while there is amazing public support out there for women’s health (as there should be), there was very little for men. As the years progressed and Movember became more prevalent and created more programs including mental health support, it really has kept me excited and looking forward to every year.

What is one of the most impactful conversations you have had with a friend, a family member, a teammate, etc.?

As mentioned previously, talking about mental health is not only difficult to talk about for too many men, but as male first responders, in my experience, I have found it even less common. I have had many opportunities to talk and support my colleagues through mental health struggles. In particular, I have had a few rather profound conversations with some of my colleagues who have been struggling with work-related burnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with stressors at home.

How has COVID-19 impacted your work and your mental health, as well as the fellow paramedics in the Peel region?

COVID-19 has been absolutely brutal on our paramedics. Having to wear PPE almost their entire shifts alone is exhausting. Couple this with social distancing, increased call volume and therefore less downtime, being uncomfortable as you are sweating all the time with the PPE, then not being able to get a lunch break or even get off work on time, it has been nothing short of brutal. What makes that even worse is that we have colleagues now who are reaching out for help and support, but we ourselves need help and are struggling to help ourselves let alone someone else… it is very easy to just shut down emotionally and physically.

Paramedics are in intense and potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis; what processes or resources are in place to help balance mental health and address challenges for paramedics, especially during the pandemic?

Unfortunately due to COVID-19 many of our usual resources to de-stress or take care of our mental health are closed. Gyms, social venues, restaurants and other healthy coping mechanisms haven’t been as readily available. As Paramedics there are some counselling options available – Homewood, Boots on the Ground and if required, we are able to take stress leave. However, in our field I find that many wait too long before reaching out for help- there is still a very real stigma that sometimes makes getting help that much more challenging.

What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced as Captain of the Peel Paramedics Movember team?

Keeping and getting people motivated is challenging, especially during this pandemic. Everyone is so burned out, just getting to work is hard and then to ask them to ‘be happy and enthusiastic’ and put in some extra effort and fundraise can be difficult. Despite people really being supportive of the cause, they are tired and lack energy to participate, even in fun things. Finding new and inventive ways to motivate people can be challenging sometimes but surrounding myself with the right people has really helped and the help and support I have found has been phenomenal. Other hurdles have included time management, competing priorities, and just COVID-19 shutting down a lot of our ideas due to required health requirements.

Knowing what you know now and the experiences you went through, what would you say to your younger self?

  1. It is ok to feel and communicate that. Happy, sad, mad, hurt… it doesn’t matter, they are all ok.
  2. Find good friends and hold onto them, you will need them later.
  3. Be kind to those around you. Everyone is struggling with something, including yourself… wouldn’t you appreciate a smile, a helping hand, some understanding?
  4. Don’t be afraid to be passionate about something and take a chance. You’ll regret not taking it later.

Donate to Joshua's Mo Space here.