First responder to Olympic luge accident hopes to shine light on PTSD – Globe and Mail

Originally published in The Globe & Mail here.

Six years after the death of a Georgian luge athlete on the opening day of the 2010 Olympics, the first responder who tried to save him is still wrapped in the chains of post-traumatic stress disorder.

On Saturday, Terrance Kosikar, 45, finished Breaking the Chains B.C., a gruelling physical test of flipping a nearly 200 kilogram tractor tire through the back roads east of Whistler, B.C., while wearing nearly 25 kilograms of steel chain.

Mr. Kosikar said the tire and chain are symbols of the burden he has had to endure with a long, lonely battle with suicide attempts and addiction after the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili triggered his mental disorder.

The former paramedic wants the problem of PTSD pushed out of the shadows. He said first responders are trained to save lives, but are never taught about the dangers to their own mental health.

“[WorkSafeBC] needs to make this in our book, our training manual, our 400-page book,” he said.

“It needs to be talked about, post-traumatic stress, what to pick up on, the signs and symptoms to pick up in your co-workers and yourself after you deal with these sort of accidents.”

Mr. Kosikar also said more should be done to remember Mr. Kumaritashvili, the young single-luge sledder who was travelling at nearly 144 kilometres an hour when he rocketed off the challenging track during an Olympic practice run and slammed into a pole. He died on the opening day of the 2010 Olympic Games.

“The plaque says, ‘Whistler always remembers,’” said Mr. Kosikar, describing the memorial erected in Whistler to the luger’s memory.

“But meanwhile the plaque and the memorial is back in the bushes, 2,000 feet away from any public eye. They don’t want to remember. No one wants to remember.”

Mr. Kosikar said he talks to Mr. Kumaritashvili’s family every week in Georgia.

“They are so happy somebody is doing something to remember that kid. It’s all they ask.”

Just a handful of friends and supporters looked on as Mr. Kosikar concluded his journey Saturday in Whistler.

He said he’s already heard his actions have encouraged a northern B.C. law firm to offer free legal assistance to those who suffer from post-traumatic stress.

“I’ll flip a tire from here to Alaska, if that could happen again,” he said. “That ripple effect is so amazing.”

Originally published in The Globe & Mail here.

B.C. first responder finishes tire-flipping journey – CTV News

Originally posted CTV News Vancouver here

A British Columbia man who was the first responder to a horrific luge accident during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics has finished a personal journey that he undertook in memory of the athlete who died.

Terrance Kosikar arrived at the base of Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler on Saturday, completing the final kilometre of his mission to flip a 400-pound tractor tire for a kilometre a day across seven B.C. mountain peaks, all to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders.

“We’ve done a kilometre a day for 36 days,” Kosikar said. “We only started out wanting to do 30 days, but we’ve done 36.”

In this file photo, track volunteers and medical workers pack their gear follwoing the crash Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during men’s luge training, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

He started the expedition on Feb. 12 to mark the six-year anniversary of the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run.

Kosikar was well-trained in many life-saving techniques when he arrived to help Kumaritashvili, but says he was not prepared to deal with the emotional impact when he couldn’t revive the athlete.

The physical demands of flipping the tire pale in comparison to the emotional struggles people with PTSD face, he said.

“This challenge has not been tough at all,” Kosikar said. “This is something that I do every day anyways to help manage my anxiety, stress, and depression.”

Kosikar runs Camp My Way, a camp for emergency service providers suffering from PTSD, where they can get away from the demands of daily life and find the time and services they need to learn to manage the condition.

With files from the Canadian Press

Originally posted CTV News Vancouver here

Final Kilometer of Flipping The Tire!

The Lion, peeks his heavy head out of his den this morning, eyes tired, back broken, knees and ligaments torn beyond repair. He grins and gently bears his teeth with a smile and a soft PRRRR.
He looks up into the beauitful universe and is grateful for his strength he has been given to walk this earth today and sacrifice his mind, body and soul each day to continue this ongoing battle to bring more awareness to Post Traumatic Stress, and try and help those who are suffering in complete silence right now, as they lay shackled to the deepest darkest depths of the devil’s belly. Flicks tail back and forth.

Two years ago, After my third denial from WCB for a PTSD claim, I lay in a hospital bed after breaking my pelvis in half. Told I may never walk again.

I found this post on the internet and I recall looking out of the hospital window and asked the universe for the strength to please let me walk again, and I would do everything I could to honour Nodar Kumaritashvilis’ life and do my best one day to make more people aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD so they don’t have to suffer the way I had for so many years along the way. (more…)