A former paramedic is flipping a 400-pound tractor tire through waist-deep snow up a mountain while shackled in 60 pounds of steel chains for a cause that’s very close to his heart.
Forty-five-year-old Terrance Kosikar and a team of his two friends from Australia and Romania have been on their arduous journey to 7th Heaven Summit on Blackcomb Mountain for the last five days and have at least another 1,000 feet left to go.
Kosikar was one of the first responders who tried to revive Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a horrific accident the day before the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Since then, Kosikar has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ending up with suicidal thoughts and an addiction problem. In the five years after the accident, he lost his job, family and home.
Kosikar has now turned his life around and is hoping to help other first responders suffering from PTSD.
“We need the help immediately,” said Kosikar. “We should not have to prove our PTSD happened at work. We are first repsonders and we take the trauma home with us daily. It affects not only us, but our families and our friends. It is unacceptable and our provincial government needs to make changes.”
After Kosikar and his team reach the summit, they will have to flip the same tire for another 1,150 kilometres around B.C. to raise awareness about the campaign.
IT IS CRITICAL THAT FIRST RESPONDERS UNDERSTAND THAT ASKING FOR HELP WHEN NEEDED IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH .. NOT WEAKNESS
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 GAMES MUST GO ON .
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 BC.com 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 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.
IT IS CRITICAL THAT FIRST RESPONDERS UNDERSTAND THAT ASKING FOR HELP WHEN NEEDED IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH .. NOT WEAKNESS
Our second annual PTS / Mental Health awareness tour that begins on Feb 10th 2017 – aimed to de-stigmatize PTSD website has officially launched today. www.itsnotweaktospeak.com
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 !
I have a workplace injury. Turns out that 22 years of working long hours of shift work and bearing the heavy weight of human suffering can hurt a person. On the outside, I don’t walk with a limp and I don’t wince in pain clutching my back when I bend over to pick something up off the floor. I don’t have aching joints or broken bones. When we talk, I’ll smile, I’ll even laugh. I’m an excellent listener. You can look long and hard into my eyes, but you won’t see where I’m hurt.
For 22 years, I have made a choice to protect the ones I love in my life from what my eyes have seen. I have buried the screams, pushed aside the tears, and tried to erase the terrifying images. I’ve taken the long way home so I don’t have to drive past the places where I’ve seen bad things happen. I’ve laid flowers on the road where I watched people die. I’ve held many children and hugged a lot of parents through their grief. My hands have helped to bring newborns into this world, and have also been the last touch a person feels when they take their final breath. As a human, I too, have suffered. In silence.
I didn’t hurt myself on one single call. I hurt myself on 22 years of calls. The emotions I thought I had been able to bury, erase, push aside, and deny for my entire career have decided it’s time. It’s time to grieve. It’s time to talk. It’s time to be honest. It’s time to stop judging myself. It’s time to no longer be afraid. Its time to no longer feel broken or ashamed. It’s time for me to accept that those 4 letters I struggle to say out loud define my injury, they do not define me.
I have PTSD but like any other injury, I will heal. I will recover.
TWC Alumni Clive Derbyshire Shares His Truth On CBC
Together We Can alumni and first responder Clive Derbyshire was recently asked to conduct a video interview on CBC News Vancouver. Clive shared his thoughts pertaining to the overdose epidemic in our city as well as his own personal struggles and triumphs in recovery.
Paramedics and firefighters in our province have experienced an onslaught of misery and trauma this year due to a seemingly endless successions of overdoses. There were 622 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths from Jan to Oct 2016 in BC and the death toll at the end of the year is projected to be over 800.
According to B.C.’s ambulance paramedics union representatives, first responders have dealt with as many as 170 calls a day related to the fentanyl crisis this past year.
With emergency rooms more crowded than ever and naloxone failing to counteract fentanyl overdoses, these brave men and women have a difficult time seeing any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Clive speaks about how important his time at TWC’s Alliance Program was for him to form a solid support group of like-minded individuals with similar goals and aspirations in recovery. Before his interview on CBC, Clive spoke at the Overdose Candlelight Vigil on December 17th in honour of those who have lost their lives.
As a BC paramedic, “empathy fatigue” and PTSD symptoms fill Clive’s ongoing journey in recovery with a complex series of barriers and obstacles. The resilience and perseverance he has shown is truly remarkable and we could not be more proud of his accomplishments thus far.
“They have to reach out for help. They have to ask, and for that to happen, the stigma of addiction has to go away. Until people can see through that and people feel safe to reach out and ask for help then there’s a barrier to any kind of help.”
– Clive Derbyshire
Originally posted on TWC’s website. Original article can be found here