Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


healthcare providers

Wings of Change – Peer Support

On this episode of BrainStorm: I talk about Wings of Change, a peer support group I developed with the help of many other amazing first responders & healthcare professionals. This is a great preview into how the meetings are run.

 There are now 14 chapters in Canada. 



56 Seconds by Syd Gravel

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Stories Behind The Smiling Pictures

On this episode of BrainStorm: My publisher Heather Down and friend Kim Forster share what it is like to be behind the scenes with me at events. Not everything is smiling faces like the pictures may show. Learn what it’s like to battle PTSD and depression while trying to feel like a contributing member of society – it’s not easy.

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Get Save My Life School: Here


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5 Ways To Help Put The Life-Saver On Ice


I have a new mission. I’ve chosen to accept it. I want to stop referring to my events and myself as “paramedic” Nat. I won’t be able to completely get rid of the adjective (I think it’s an adjective), because it’s my social media handle in many cases, and that’s ok, but I do feel the need to be just me again – a mission that hasn’t been an easy one. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still love the profession of paramedicine and most of my experiences as a paramedic, but I feel the need to just be me now – whatever that is – I’m still soul-searching.

I’m not alone in feeling the difficulty of putting the ‘life-saver’ side of me on ice – not even close. I have people reach out to me almost every day sharing their own struggles with separating from their life-saving persona. Whether it’s because of retirement or injury, leaving the profession of saving lives can take a toll on our own. Let’s face it, first responders and healthcare providers are cut from a different cloth – they have a passion for helping and for running ‘into the fire’, and learning how to stop doing that can be a delicate and difficult process – trust me, I know.

Five ways to help put the life-saver on ice.

  1. Allow for a grieving process to occur. This may sound silly, but I can tell you whole-heartedly that I have had to grieve the loss of my career. All five stages of the Kubler-Ross grieving process have been a part of my life over the past few years: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And when I realized that this was occurring, it helped me to recognize that a process was taking place and that each stage takes some time. It gave me permission to not have to be accepting of the loss over night.
  2. Take time for mindfulness. First responders and healthcare providers are trained to live in the past and future. We go to a call and collect information about what has happened, and prepare in our minds how to be one step ahead with how we will treat a patient. Always ready for the next…anything, and researching how we can improve on past-practice. I found that when I started to practice living in the now, I was able to enjoy a part of life that had been obscure to me for a very long time. Living in the now is a beautiful thing. This is not to say that you can’t live in the now while you are still a first responder or healthcare provider; if you can that’s amazing.
  3. See that you are still able to help people. When I wasn’t able to put my uniform on, I felt like a part of my value and self worth had vanished. It took me some time to see that I was still able to help others – on a very large scale in fact. My passion to help people and to be of service never left when I stopped being a paramedic on the road. Consider volunteering as a wonderful way to potentially fill that void.
  4. Get back to the things you love. If your busy shift-worker schedule took you away from the things you love, try to add them back into your life. Easier said than done! I still can’t drag myself to a yoga class. But writing and drawing has added joy to my life again.
  5. Enjoy eating slowly! And pee whenever you want to! Sometimes the little things can be big things. Until I was off the road I didn’t realize that for over eleven years I never knew when I was going to eat next because a call could come in at any time. And I definitely didn’t have a washroom to use while at a multiple car accident on the highway for hours. Sometimes I sit in the washroom for a few extra minutes now because I can! Too much information? – Nothing is too much information from me anymore – LOL.

Putting the life-saver on ice doesn’t at all mean that I need to forget the love I have for my past career. It was part of who I was for so long and I carry many amazing, positive memories with me forever because of it. But the fact of the matter is what I do is different now, and it’s ok for me to be ok with that.

My Perspective on Boredom

On this episode of BrainStorm: How I battle boredom, My spiritual awakening while at rehab, Gratitude for monotony, Special interview announcement, and more…

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here


Brain Storm by Paramedic Nat is proudly produced by


Being Numb and Swimming in S**t Soup

On this episode of BrainStorm: How being numb doesn’t mean that you feel nothing. “Don’t Swim in S**t Soup.” A tribute to Chester Bennington, …and more.

Pre-order my New Book: Here

Get Save My Life School: Here


Brain Storm by Paramedic Nat is proudly produced by

My Interview On The Agenda

Thank you again to The Agenda for this amazing opportunity.

Positive and Positive Attract


I had an excellent meeting with the CEO and Head of the Nursing Department of a hospital in which my daughter and I had a very terrible experience with a nurse and her lack of professionalism and compassion. I’ve always believed that positive and positive attract – and today that theory was once again proven.

The primary reason for my request of this meeting today was to share a negative experience, but I don’t go about doing so with the old Natalie ‘jersey them’ attitude anymore. I now approach difficult experiences as an opportunity to grow; and today I think that all three of us in the meeting did just that.

After sharing my recollection of the events in a detailed fashion, I continued the meeting with a request to not have the nurse in question reprimanded, but rather to have my daughter’s and my discontent shared with the nurse (or how would she even have the opportunity to change her actions and bedside manner), and to share an offering of peer support to her and all of the staff at the hospital. I explained to the CEO and Head of Nursing what Wings of Change was and how it could easily be facilitated at the hospital. I am not naive to think that it is quite possible that this nurse was having a bad day and could require some support of her own – however this does NOT condone her actions. This conversation point went over very well and I will be sending more information about Wings of Change to both of them for there consideration.

I also suggested the following:

  • A patient suggestion/comment portal be introduced on the hospital’s website;
  • Signage be added to the emergency department that offers contact information to the hospital’s patient advocates (a service many people still do not know exists).

I also applied to be on the Patient and Family Advisory Committee and requested that if I am selected that I have a voice in the adult and youth mental health department services and care.

According to the College of Nurses in Ontario, Standards of Care, “Nurses are obliged to provide empathic and knowledgeable care” (, and MOST do. But when a situation occurs where this standard is not met, I encourage you to contact the patient advocate in the hospital you are being provided care in.

I would like to thank both the CEO and Head of Nursing for meeting with me today and for their professionalism and genuine concern with regards to the care of my daughter.


Everyone Deserves Compassionate Care


It’s hard not to be narrow of mind when our instincts immediately detect negativity. A certain tone in a voice, like a note in a song that instantly makes you feel a certain way, can paint the outcome of a situation – before it even begins. Confusing intensions without reason, from a tone that wants to be distinguished as powerful, can make for a horrible experience. I had such a horrible experience yesterday. Where we go to get well, I ended up getting sick. What should have been comforting, turned into unimaginable and unnecessary stress. Allow me to elaborate…

I started being underestimated many years ago in such an environment when I would take my sick mom to see specialists in hospitals all over Toronto. At the time I was only twenty years old, so I understand how my age could impart a lack of confidence from doctors in my ability to know the complexity of my mom’s brain injury after a ruptured brain aneurysm. But I had done my homework – my mom’s life depended on it – and I was ready to confidently and kindly suggest certain rehabs or medications for my mom when I sat down in front of white cloaks – I mean coats – of scepticism and arrogance galore.

Disclaimer: Not ALL caregivers are like this…but these are my experiences with the ones who are.

I got used to having to prove that I knew what I was talking about at every appointment. Slowly, as the conversation evolved, the specialist would start to respect my suggestions and stop trying to scurry me and my mom out of the office. Over time, I stopped being a waste of time in their eyes, and developed respected relationships with many of them – but doing so was exhausting! As I would drive home from these appointments, with my mom asleep in the passenger seat not able to speak or even remember who I was, and my daughter who was one year old and my brother who was five years old in the back, I would think to myself how great it would finally be to be older and less underestimated. Sigh…or so I thought.

Fast forward to yesterday. I am at the hospital with my daughter who requires emergency surgery (she is ok – thank God), and the energy it takes me to express the dire need of her care is exhausting! I feel like I’m twenty years old again as I am brushed off over and over again and made to feel like I am a just a kid who couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about. Now I get that there is always two sides to every story, and that this is only one, but after being lied to by a care provider who is supposed to be hitting the highest level on my trust-o-meter, I feel I have a valid side to share.

It makes me so sad, and mad, when I feel like I need to put on my proverbial boxing gloves to be respected and listened to. Not ok! Especially when the care I am fighting for is for my child. Every parent deserves to feel secure and comfortable with their child’s care from the beginning to the end of a hospital visit.

I have been known to speak my voice from time to time…(eye roll I’m sure from many- lol), and I will continue to do so as long as necessary to evoke positive change in this world. In fact, a letter is on it’s way to the CEO of the hospital, because no parent should ever have to experience what I did; nor should any child. If you are reading this blog and you think that maybe it’s you that I’m speaking about, I welcome the opportunity to discuss my experiences with you next to me in the CEO’s office – not to be a bitch – but to educate and make a change.

My daughter is comfortable and well – that is truly what matters – and I will fight for her care until the day I die. But I shouldn’t have to. I live in Canada and have healthcare that is accessible and definitely not taken for granted by myself. If you are a healthcare provider, you are not granted permission to be rude to any human being because of that. In fact, as a healthcare provider, you should be compassionate toward every person you meet – regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, and beyond. Patients and their families are scared when they are at a hospital and need to be reassured that they will be ok, and arrogance NEVER accomplishes that.

Tomorrow I will be underestimated again – I have resigned myself to that fact – and tomorrow I will continue to fight for what’s right, no matter how exhausting it is.

BrainStorm – My New Mental Health Podcast

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