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Essex Windsor EMS, Essex Fire provide “Project All In” coins to first responders

-the coin starts a difficult conversation that someone is in need of mental health help-


by Sylene Argent

Though the stigma around mental health continues to lift, for many, saying the words “I need help” can be difficult.

  That is why Essex-Windsor EMS and Essex Fire & Rescue announced they have joined the “Project All In” initiative, which provides first responders with a special coin they can simply pass along to another to let them know they are struggling mentally.

  The announcement was made at the Essex County Civic & Education Centre last Thursday afternoon.

  Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel learned of the program late in 2019, when at a conference in Calgary. There, two firemen of Alberta spoke about this project, which they created after a peer committed suicide.

  “Project All In,” Arnel said, got its roots in Canada, but is now an international program that is used in eight countries. Over 9500 coins have been issued since its implementation.

  The coin itself is two-sided. One is emblazoned with the image of a blue buffalo, which is meant to represent everything is good. The other is a red maple leaf, which is to represent when someone is in need of help. It has the word “help” added in many languages.

  If an emergency responder is having difficult time, they can show a peer the red-side of the coin, which starts the conversation and allows that peer to know their friend is going through a difficult time and needs someone to help.

  Arnel added that the spouses of emergency responders can take a photo of the red-side of the coin. If their partner is having a difficult time, but still will not reach out, they can send it to someone who can help, like their chief.  

  “We love taking care of our community,” Arnel said. “And now, it is time to take care of our own.”

  Arnel added that there is still a stigma attached to mental health, especially as it relates to first responders.

  “They forget to take care of themselves and it creates a culture of silence,” he said. Sometimes, those who indeed need help “insist they are fine, but we know they are not.”

The coin will also serve as a reminder to first responders that they are never alone.

  Essex Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter said when Arnel reached out to him about “Project All In,” it was a no-brainer to get involved. He added it would be great if a paramedic was able to help a firefighter, for instance.

  Arnel and Krauter are urging other first responding and emergency service agencies, and their affiliates, to also join the project. So far, they heard Leamington Fire has also ordered the coins.

  Veterans, Arnel said, need this coin, too.

  For more information about this initiative, log onto https://projectallin.ca/

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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