About the Ottawa First Responders Foundation

We were founded out of response to a need.  Learn about this need and help us grow and to help First Responders.

Our Story

The Ottawa First Responders Foundation came about when the creator of the foundation, Brenda Tirrell, spoke to a fellow firefighter after a traumatic experience.  And so, the idea for the OFRF was born.

“I could never do your job.”
A sentence that First Responders hear regularly.

Tragedy strikes on a personal and city-wide basis daily, while first responders continue to answer the calls day and night. Traumatic events do not just affect the victims of the event, the trauma circle spreads much wider than that. First responders are exposed to these incidents daily, sometimes multiple times a day. The rates of mental health issues are significantly higher in first responders than the average population.  Research from the University of Regina in a 2017 study shows 45% of first responders screen positively for 1 or more mental health disorders, compared to the general population at a rate of 10%. The majority of these disorders are rooted in mental injury sustained while on the job.

Currently, government assistance to first responders is purely reactive. Meaning, that a first responder is only able to receive support once they have been traumatized. In order to be effective in the battle against mental injuries, we need to be PROACTIVE. Helping first responders and their families develop resilience, know the warning signs of an issue and what to do when they need help. Learn about the OFRF Mission, Vision, and Values.

When someone needs help, they call the first responders in. Let’s make sure that when they need help, they get it.

Who We Support

Ottawa First Responders Foundation support front-line workers who respond to 9-1-1 and other emergency calls. Including:

  • full-time firefighters
  • part-time firefighters
  • volunteer firefighters
  • fire investigators
  • police officers
  • paramedics
  • ambulance service managers/logisics
  •  911 dispatch

– PLUS Ottawa First Responder retirees, veterans and family members

First responders and support staff are at a higher risk of experiencing occupational stress injuries because of routine exposure to traumatic events while responding to emergencies. This can lead to a range of mental health conditions, such as:

The experiences of first responders and support staff can impact everyone around them, including colleagues, family members and friends. Understanding the importance of mental health can help you recognize early signs and risks to mental health and well-being. Providing resources to serving and retired first responders, support staff, and their families may be an effective option in supporting a person’s mental health and well-being.

In this family, no one stands alone.