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On November 15, the BC First Responders Mental Health Committee will receive the Dr. Joseph H. Cohen Award for public safety

The BC First Responders Mental Health Committee is the 2018 recipient of the Dr. Joseph H. Cohen Award for public safety.
The BC First Responders Mental Health Committee is the 2018 recipient of the Dr. Joseph H. Cohen Award for public safety for its leadership in promoting mental health for first responders.

When help is needed, they are first to answer the call. Every day, first responders are there in times of need. Whether saving lives, responding to emergencies or helping individuals and communities recover, they are trained to make the right decisions in critical situations. Not surprisingly, the events and experiences of being a first responder can take a toll on mental health and well-being and impact the lives of everyone around them, including spouses, children, colleagues, friends and family members.

“First responders experience traumas and stressors at work that are unlike those seen in most other occupations, and research has shown that these workers are at higher risk of mental health injuries,” said Trudi Rondou, Senior Manager of Industry and Labour Services with WorkSafeBC. “Critical incident stress affects up to 87 per cent of all emergency personnel exposed to a critical incident and no one in emergency services is immune, regardless of past experiences or years of service. First responders may experience critical incident stress at any time during their careers.”

The BC First Responders Mental Health Committee was established in 2015 as a multi-agency group, to work collaboratively to provide cross-organizational leadership and recommend practices that promote positive mental health for first responders across the province. Members of the committee include both labour and management representatives from First Nations emergency services as well as law enforcement (including RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and municipal and transit police), the fire service, ambulance and emergency health services from across the province.

“One of the first priorities of the committee was to create a repository of information, supports, and resources to provide first responder organizations with a well-developed starting point for addressing mental health issues,” explained Rondou, who is chair of the committee. “The resulting website,, provides a central inventory of resources that allows for sharing of knowledge, resources, and training across first responder agencies.” Another priority was tackling the stigma that still exists in many first responder organizations. To that end, the “Share It. Don’t Wear It.” anti-stigma campaign was created.

Members of the BC First Responders Mental Health Committee were also pivotal in having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders included in the list of presumptive conditions associated with frontline responder work within the Worker’s Compensation Act. The BC Government has showcased the work of the committee across Canada and its work is now being duplicated in other provinces.

Keeping first responders healthy contributes to public safety. As the primary training and education provider for recruits in the province, this is an important area of advocacy for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and the BC First Responders Mental Health Committee has developed and shared resources with JIBC programs to increase awareness of mental health and the resources available to new recruits as they enter their professions.

On November 15, 2018, The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation will award the BC First Responders Mental Health Committee with the Dr. Joseph H. Cohen Award in recognition of its outstanding work to increase awareness of and support for positive mental health among first responders. The award, established in 1998 to honour a founding Governor of JIBC, recognizes a passionate desire to help others and in doing so, provide leadership in the pursuit of public safety.


Be the One Gala Event Details

The JIBC Foundation Be the One Gala – featuring the Justice & Public Safety Awards
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Reception 6 pm; Dinner and Justice & Public Safety Awards 7 pm

The Gala will recognize individuals and groups committed to impacting lives through justice, public safety, and community leadership; celebrate 40 years of JIBC, Canada's leading public safety educator; and raise funds to support student success. 

Justice & Public Safety Award Honourees include:

BC First Responders Mental Health Committee
Marvin R.V. Storrow, QC, LLD

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, OBC, LLD and Sergio Cocchia, OBC, LLD
Franjo Gasparovic and Megan Rook
Douglas Eastwood, QC (posthumous)
Heather Lyle (posthumous)

Purchase tickets at:; 604-683-1513;


About The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation

For almost 25 years, The Justice Institute of British Columbia Foundation (The JIBC Foundation) has been inspiring giving for important needs that enhance education, training, student learning and applied research at JIBC. These needs most often include student scholarships and bursaries, new equipment and technology, and other tools related to student success. The JIBC Foundation is proud to be building meaningful relationships with communities to support Canada’s leading public safety educator.



Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator with a mission to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research. JIBC offers internationally recognized education that leads to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates; exceptional continuing education for work and career-related learning and development; and customized contract training to government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our education provides professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at every stage of their career contributing to safer communities and a more just society.