Musician and paramedic Nicholas Hennink knows first-hand what it's like to suffer the trauma of witnessing the kind of horrific scenes first responders deal with, having been a paramedic for 16 years. Turning to alcohol to deal with his stress and depression, he eventually found help at a recovery centre, which recently helped him raise money for a cause near and dear to his heart - helping other first responders who are struggling.
He recently released a music video featuring first responders in his hometown of Moose Jaw to honour the work they do, with each viewing of the video raising money for OSI-CAN.
"It was a vision I had about a year ago," explained Hennink. "I wanted to create a video showing emergency services in the job that they do and how we work together in helping patients. So I chose to do a car crash and it portrays EMS, fire, police, all working together to help this patient."
Each share of the video on Facebook raised $1, up to $1,000, donated by Aurora Recovery Centre.
"We hit that 1,000 shares within one day. It was an absolute blessing," said Hennink.
He said any online purchases of the song will also go towards OSI-CAN.
Recently, Hennink has also been traveling around the southeast to meet with emergency service crews and take their photos, including here in Weyburn last week, with a future project in mind to honour them.
OSI-CAN is dedicated to helping serving members and veterans of the armed forces, public safety personnel, and first responders. They provide weekly peer support meetings in eight communities in Saskatchewan, including here in Weyburn.
"Individuals can come and discuss the issues that they're dealing with as well as recovery, particularly hope, resilience, and recovery, in a non-judgemental, non-criticized type of environment that is built on anonymity as well," shared Julius Brown, provincial coordinator for OSI-CAN. "It's at the support group level where other issues are identified and then routed through our network of service providers."
Brown said they also provide funding for service dogs and counseling, as well as provide a phone-in support group for those in remote communities or dealing with mobility issues. He encourages people to reach out for help, explaining that the holiday season can be a stressful time, especially for those already dealing with operational stress injury (OSI) and post-traumatic stress injury.
The peer support groups take place every Thursday in Weyburn at Grace United Church at 7 p.m.