Only 20 minutes after RIP Nodar Kumaritashvili, was prenounced at the Poly Clinic on opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympics, we had been given strict instructions by some fancy suited fella .

“We DO NOT TALK about this to nobody, no media, no friends, no family, NOTHING, to NOBODY”. Immediatly swept under the rug.


The 4 of us, that had tried for over an hour that day to save Nodars life, were still in total shock from not only witnessing him hitting a solid steel post at 153 kms per hour, but also trying to bring him back to life as we rushed code 3, lights and sirens to the Poly Clinic.

As per First Responder protocal, for all Emergency Services, this is where a Critical Incident Stress Debrief team should have come to talk with us.

You would assume that with a 7.2 billion dollar price tag on the games, a special team would have been put in place to deal with such a tragic accident in case their was one.

I assure you, this did not happen.

A debrief after a call like this or any code 3 call is MANDATORY, as it is an absolute vital stage in helping ground and complete the cycle in the first responder, or any human who dealing with that adrenilyn that is trapped in their nervous system, that will lead to Post Traumatic Stress if not dealt with immediately.

To make more sense of what I just said, a debrief after a bad call, or to Joe public who has just endured a life threatening situation or witnessed any sort of traumatic event or even a major surgery, it is as vital as putting pressure on a deadly bleed right away.

Not tommorrow, not next week, not next year, but now.

Problem is, in Canada, First Responders, we still have that old school mentality.

That we need to just suck it up, or you will be considered broken and weak if you speak about how this truely affects you as a soldier, or a emergency care giver / HUMAN BEING.

Their is barely even minimal prevention training in any of our class rooms, and we have that additude that we are the hero, the soldier who carries a weapon that kills, we are the one who rushes into the burning inferno to save the person who is screaming for their life, or police man, who hunts down the serial rapist and dodges bulllets, or ambulance attendant who helps bring back a drug overdose, or responds to a teen suicide or bad MVA ( motor vehicle accident) when body parts can be found strung up and down the highway for a 1/2 km.

What the public sees, is a nice shiny red fire truck, or a flashy silver badge, or maybe even a man or woman with nice uniform knowing they are all easily qualified to save your life if you were to drop now.

Canadians all know that no matter what time of day we call 911, we are confident that a dispatch agent will take our call, and dispatch the proper emergency response team to OUR emergency right away.

What the public is totally unaware of is that those people who answer the call, or guard the prisoner, and risk their life every single day just to be there for us when we need them, are left out in the dark when they have an emergency or need the help themselves.

Most public I’m sure feels that because all First responders are paid by the government with your tax dollars, that we would get the same kind of help the minute we ask for it.

We’ll Im going to tell you straight up, when a First Responder in British Columbia goes to get some help for a wound that is not visible, (PTS) we are doubted, and forced to spend many years trying to prove that our injury (Post Traumatic Stress) happened from doing our job.

This comes at a very heavy cost to the First Responder and his or her family.

9 times out of 10 they are denied the help after years of hoops with WCB, fired from work, and considered broken, and left out in the cold, homeless, addicted, penniless, and is why we now have 179 First Responders who died by suicide over the last 2 years in all of Canada.

If you’ve been following our Breaking the Chains journey over this last year, you’re familiar that I have been working over seas for many months in Germany, with all Chief Commanders of every Emergency Service department, along with top ranking officials from the German Air Force learning why their suicide rates over the last 20 years, dont even compare to 1/100th of our suicide rate over just the last 2 years here in Canada .

I’ll sum it all up without a huge 9 chapter story here.

They have come a long way since WW2, and have learned many lessons to help prevent any of their Emergency Services from suffering in silence.

Their PTS (post traumatic stress) awareness, prevention and after care programs are top shelf, above and beyond ours in Canada 10 fold. Its almost as if they are 3000 years ahead of our times. Oh wait …THEY ARE !

In reality, our country is only just 150 years old? Think about how new we are and how much we clearly have to learn still. very possible.

In Germany, and Australia, you are not considered weak if and when you speak about how you feel, and you are supported, cared for and given the help the MINUTE you ask for it. No questions or bullshit WCB circus hoops to jump through for years, while you stand at the hospital doors looking for a band aid as your family sits at home bleeding out of love and support financially, mentally, physically and spiritually.

As you’re aware, also, I have been working closely along side some top Canadian Politicians, Police Chiefs, Ambulance attendants and Fire Chiefs, all agree that it’s certainly time for change. Problem is, our Provincial govermnent is not prepared to help, nor do they feel your tax money should go to helping our Provincial First Responders who are human and are killing themslves at a rate that is totally unacceptable. Especially when its our emergencies they are responding to.

It’s now time for us to respond to their emergency and bring them the help they desrve code 3!

There are already 5 other Provinces in Canada who have passed through Legislature the, “Presumption of Illness”. Meaning when a Policeman, Fireman, Corrections officer, Paramedic, and even Dispatch 911 agent needs help, it’s presumed that their injury that is not visible, happened at work. Only in Briitish Columbia, and a few other provinces, you must spend years trying to prove your injury happened at work.

How in the hell is a person with a mental injury supposed to do such a rediculous thing, and not only how, BUT WHY?

When working overseas, all Emergency Services are completely appauled at our current Provincial Government, as most lower their heads and feel the sadness as they know how vital it is to get the proper care before a bad call (prevention education) during and after (debrief, support).

2 days before Christmas, I was sitting in a Emergency Dispatch call centre talking with my new friend Eric Schneider (911 agent), and asked if he thought any of his team from his Volunteer fire hall would like to have me come to the hall and talk more about PTS.

He said he’ll send an email out to his team, but maybe only 4 or 5 guys would show up because it would be Christmas eve, and they would all be spending time with their familes.

I understood, and the email was sent to his team at the Feuerwehr Oberursel-Mitte,

I didnt have any expectations, especially cause it was Christmas eve, but to my surprise, the very next day – 27 firemen / women all showed up to listen, and learn even more about PTS, and help support our Canadian First Responders with our new social media challange – and help us spread the word internationally – the simple fact that .. ITS NOT WEAK TO SPEAK.

This is something that is very important for German First Responders to do, take care of each other, and constantly practice talking, and supporting each other on a monthly basis, year after year, not just from a 1/2 page workshop note book, or assume that our Department actually has a policy, plan and procedue that is prepared to handle our needs when we are injured.

If you have a WCB training manual, 500 page book, 80 hour course, I’ll invite you now to please open up this entry level 3 first aid course that WCB offers to all First responders.

NOT ONE WORD or SENTENCE ON PTSD – where is the prevention in British Columbia?

If you’ve been hired on as a POC firefighter in BC, and you’ve taken the 11 months of training to get your pager, do you recall ever learning about PTSD?

I recall learning how to fold tarps for 8 hours a day for 3 days straight, but not even one minute on anything about Post Traumatic Stress .

We train train train to help the patient, or make the scene safe. I thought our safety came first ?

It certainly does in most other countries, why NOT Canada?

RCMP? Let me ask all of you who have graduated depot Division , how many days of training did you take shooting bad guys targets and polishing your boots as they de humanized you?

Ok, and how many weeks, days or even seconds did they teach you about any signs or symptoms of PTSD and what can and will happen to you over time. We are only human, and it’s natural, but we need to be more aware before we break (period).

It’s not your fault, our system is merely broken and can be fixed with more public awareness to this problem. Lets think long-term – together .

Why are we waiting until we are broken to get fixed, and on the same note, we don’t even have any “shops” that can or will, or are ready to even fix us when we are broken. This is a huge problem.

If WCB, or any other departments, don’t have an aftercare plan in place – then they sure as hell better start teaching some more prevention for the people who risk their lives and famlies lives everyday that serve the public.


Our second annual PTS / Mental Health awareness tour that begins on Feb 10th 2017 – aimed to de-stigmatize PTSD website has officially launched today.

If you feel our Provincial Government should make some changes through Legislature, then please visit or website now and sign our online petition for Petition for Presumption of Illness / Bill M203.

Time to help the people, who help us – NO QUESTIONS ASKED !


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Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services and FireRescue Magazine
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Whistler Winter 2016/17
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Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW)
Mariam Kumaritashvili

Oberstedten Feuerwehr Germany -supporting ITS NOT WEAK TO SPEAK Canada

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About the author: Terrance Kosikar

I was the first responder to a fatal accident at the Whistler Sliding Center on Opening Day of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Although I was well trained in a myriad of life saving techniques, I was not prepared to deal with the emotional impact sustained while on the job. As a result of the fatality, I developed a Post-Traumatic Stress Injury that launched me into a very costly downward spiral. During several years of severe depression, anxiety, nightmares, and substance abuse, I lost my family, my career, and nearly my life. Pushed to my breaking point, I found salvation within. Escaping to the back-country near Lillooet, BC, I found peace and purpose in Mother Nature’s beauty and simplicity. Many others who have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress have not been so lucky. By raising awareness and destigmatizing this debilitating mental injury, we can help the people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress get the help they need.