EDITORIAL: Emergency first responders forced into social work

Police, firefighters and paramedics should add ‘social worker’ to their job description

There’s a reason why we call them first responders.

Police, firefighters and paramedics are the first people called when we need help. It used to be for fires, car accidents or falling from a tree.

But soon police, firefighters and paramedics are going to have to add ‘social worker’ to their job descriptions.

When they’re walking or biking the beat, police are often the ones contacting social service providers for people in need, checking on vulnerable people to ensure they’re safe, and diffusing dangerous situations.

It’s a specialized skill set that used to fall to case workers. As the provincial government closes facilities for people with mental illness, reduces services and resources, case loads for social workers increase and people simply fall through the cracks.

Where the police used to be the last call, now they’re often the first.

Care for people with mental illness, brain injury or developmental disabilities is complex.

With fewer doctors available to take new patients, those high-maintenance clients are left calling crisis lines and walk-in clinics for stop-gap measures instead of solutions.

Add in poverty, poor nutrition, barriers to housing and it doesn’t take long for someone barely getting by to suddenly end up in crisis.

It takes a community to raise a child, but it also takes a community to ensure that our most vulnerable people are safe and cared for.

That means access to food and nutrition, health care, adequate social services and affordable housing – not a jail cell.

 

Just Posted

Canada Women’s Rugby 7s Team land at home after series triumph

Next stop at Langford offers Olympic qualification

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Two-sailing waits continue Victoria to Tsawwassen

Backlog continues despite extra sailings over Easter

Saanich soccer player survives bout with flesh eating disease

Harinder Sandhu picked up the disease after soccer game

Second earthquake in less than two hours strikes off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Vancouver Island-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 straws each year

Most Read