Member of the Legisltive Assembly – Shane Simpson welcomes Terrance Joseph Kosikar to the BC Legislature.
POWER OF THOUGHT – “Please welcome, Terrance to the Legislature”
One hour after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was over, most of Canada was cheering, and celebrating.
Unable to bare the overwhelming amount of guilt, shame, and the unforgiving feelings of depression and anxiety that had built up every time I heard a cow bell dinging, or saw a yet another happy face walk by as they cheered, I had left the track that night and chose to die by suicide..
4 days later, I sat in my doctors office, wondering why in the hell I had spent so many years risking my life to respond to the public’s Emergencies, and out of nowhere, here I was trying to die by suicide?
My doctor says to me, “ I think you may have PTSD”. This was the first time I had ever heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He then referred me to a physciatrist for a professional diagnosis.
Problem was, the shrink only came to Whistler once every 3 months. So in the meantime, I was handed a few perscriptions to try and prevent me from trying to end my life again.
By the time shrinky poo came to town, 3 months later, do you think I wanted to say anything to this woman?
I didn’t know her, I didn’t trust her, I didnt believe in her, I was so heavily medicated, believe me, she was the last person on earth I was about to tell my homicidal thoughts or my suicidal feelings to.
The last thing I wanted was to be sentenced or diagnosed with a “DISORDER”.
It’s bad enough that my father spent his entire life housed in an institute for the criminally insane, Its certainly not where I wanted to end up also.
I tried to be the tough guy, and mask my feelings, hide my true thoughts, and avoid putting all my nightmares on the table in fear of her having me committed to a nut house for the rest of my life.
1 year later, I found myself checking into the Vancouver Detox Center, after being fired from my job at Whistler Sport Legaices for “not acting the same since the Olympics”, and for abusing the drugs (meds) that the doctors had me jacked up on that entire year to, “numb the pain, the feelings, the thoughts”.
I hadn’t eaten anything over those Christmas holidays, and had been violently puking blood uncontrollably before checking into detox that New Years day.
I was advised by the bosses at Sport Legacies (as they were firing me) to make a claim with WCB, for a workplace injury.
They had told me that PTSD is a workplace injury and that they would take good care of me the same as they took care of a few other employees that had been working during the games who also filed for PTSD .
At this point, I still had no idea what PTSD was, nor did I feel it was an injury. I assumed like most people do, that an injury is obvious. I mean I had been a First Responder for over 7 years, and never have I ever heard of this sort of injury, or it’s signs, or symptoms, nor how to respond to it, or treat it.
After years of jumping through the BS hogwash hoops like a circus monkey, with the loss of my careers, my livelyhood, the loss of my friends and family, on top of being dragged through a system that looks great proceedurly on paper but in real life is the most crooked, smoke and mirror show I have ever seen. Along wth many attempts at ending my life, self drugged and heavily medicated until I lost everything and ended up not even knowing who I was or why I was …
27 Chapters later …
Just last year, during our Breaking the Chains BC – PTSD Awareness program, I had opened up my Worksafe BC Occupational First Aid Level 3 book, and flipped through over 500 pages and couldn’t find ONE SINGLE SECTION, page or even the word PTSD in it.
Just so happened only a few days later, I was doing a radio interview on 101.5 Whistler FM, when the lady interviewing me mentioned how only days earlier a man named Shane Simpson MLA – Vancouver Hastings had just tabled Bill M203, Presumption of Illness, an amendment to the 2016 Workers Compensation Act .
(those were actually pretty big words for a guy like me, and really had no idea what any of it really meant.)
I had the next 27km of flipping my tire over 7 mountains to think about this man, and how amazing it would be to one day meet him.
I wanted more than anything in the world to just have 5 minutes of his time, to let him know first hand just how vital it is to all Emergency Service Providers that this Bill he had introduced gets passed.
With each flip of my tire, I would always lower my head though, knowing I am really just a nobody, just a ol washed up First Responder who lost his job, lost his family, I had no money, no pull, no status, still eating food bank donations, and I didn’t even own a cell phone.
Pffft, as if a guy like him, a politician, a Member of the Legislative Assembly would ever in a million years EVER, even have 1 second to look down at me, let alone – know I even existed on this earth.
I used to day dream over and over that one day, maybe just one day, I would be somebody, somebody special enough to get to cross paths with this man and or his team.
With these days dreams in mind, these postive goals and dreams put out to the universe each day, with each meditation. I had received an email from a man named Jim McCallistar, Director or British Columbia Search and Rescue who wanted to meet us to help flip our tire while in Victoria.
While talking with Jim outside the Legislature Building, Shane Simpson came outside to invite myself and our teammates into the house gallery the next day to have the honour to watch and listen in person while Shane introduced Bill M 203 into Legislation.
After going through some pretty serious security, we sat in the gallery, looking down at the entire BC NDP – over 40 members.
I can tell you now, this was by far the absolute coolest, most badass experience I had ever lived through. After all the years of many struggles, here I was, INSIDE a room where history is made. Where government makes decisions that structures how us, the people live or die for.
This all seemed like a crazy dream, one I have certainly never had before, never in my wildest day dreams, but this was about to get alot more real than I had ever imagined.
The Honourable Speaker, Ms Linda Reid, says the words “ Vancouver Hastings”
I then saw Shane stand up and my gut got all fuzzy inside, I was about to witness him introduce Bill M203, The Presumption of Illness, a Bill that our team had slaved 20 hrs a day, 7 days a week for over a year to bring more public awareness to with our tire flipping programs and online petition.
My teeth were clinched tight, my paws were even shaking a little bit as the fur on my arms started to stand up with excitment.
YES, this is really happening.
The next thing ya know, Shane says “ Thank you Honourable Speaker, Honourable Speaker, I’d like to introduce Terrance Kosikar who’s here with his colleagues.
My jaw about hit the floor, Shane went on to talk about who I was, and the work we do this last year to raise awareness to post Traumatic Stress.
When he was done talking he didn’t even introduce the Bill yet, but asked the entire house to Welcome me, a small fish backcountry farmer, TO THE LEGISLATURE .
All 40 members of the BC NDP, and all members of the Liberal Government smiled as they looked up into the gallery at us, and clapped.
This is by far the greatest, most special moment of my entire life – I stood up, in total shock, bowed humbly, sat back down and enjoy every single tear that rolled down my face onto my lap.
AGASSIZ, B.C. — In the shadow of a guard tower at Kent Institution, correctional officers added their voices to the first responders calling on the B.C. government to do more to help those struggling with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s — not — weak — to — speak,” the officers yelled, each word punctuated by the flip of a giant tractor tire symbolizing the weight of PTSD.
The event at Mountain and Kent prisons Wednesday was organized by Terrance Kosikar, one of the first medics on the scene when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvilidied at the beginning of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“PTSD is not a disease, it’s an injury that we can heal from,” said Kosikar, who struggled with PTSD in the weeks after the Games. “We should call it an injury because it’s more accurate, hopeful and honourable.”
Among correctional officers, mental illness can carry a stigma, said Derek Chin, regional president of the Canadian correctional officers’ union. “Many of us don’t want to show weakness.”
However, officers deal with violence on a regular basis. Not only are they sometimes the target of violence, they also deal with inmates who have hurt each other or have tried to harm themselves.
“This job requires you to be a jack of all trades,” said Chin, explaining that officers do some of the same tasks as police, firefighters and paramedics inside prison walls. “We are the first responders to a variety of situations.”
Corinne Blanchette, Union of Canadian Correctional Officers adviser, supports an NDP bill recently tabled in the B.C. legislature, which, if passed, would add a presumptive clause to WorkSafe B.C. legislation. The bill would make it easier for first responders suffering from PTSD to get immediate access to counselling by assuming PTSD claims by first responders are related to their work. To deny a claim, WorkSafe would need to prove otherwise. The government hasn’t supported a similar bill in the past.
“Claims would be accepted sooner and officers would get treatment faster (with presumptive legislation),” said Blanchette. “If you wait to be treated, your symptoms can become more severe.”
The union adviser said she’s been involved in PTSD cases and appeals that take two or three years to be completed, including one for a female guard who was stabbed by an inmate.
Chin said Kosikar’s message was mostly well-received by the officers at the prison complex in Agassiz, although the event did hit a bump in the road. During a speech to officers at medium-security Mountain Institution, Kosikar revealed that he spent time behind bars in the U.S.
“That brought up some feelings and uncertainty for some of the officers in attendance,” said Chin.
The union decided to cancel Kosikar’s speech at maximum-security Kent.
Kosikar took it all in stride. While he didn’t speak to officers at Kent, two joined him to flip his tractor tire along a perimeter fence beneath a guard tower.
“When you strip away the uniforms and you strip away the mistakes of the past, we’re all just people, and sometimes we need help,” he said.
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.
By trying to get as “HIGH” as possible … up Cloud 9, on Whistler Blackcomb ,with our tractor tire to raise awareness to Post Traumatic Stress, Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery.
Day 1 – Flipped 1.7 kms – 728 Vertical meters
Our goal also was to bring more public awareness to Bill M203, “Presumption of Illness”, and ask the public we met along our journey to help us flip our tire, and sign our petition that would hopefully persuade our Provincial Government to pass this bill into Legislation.
Bill M203 -2016 Workers Compensation Amendment Act –
This Act amends the Workers Compensation Act in order to provide support and care for British Columbia’s first responders. The Act creates a presumptive clause for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In recognition of the crucial role paramedics, firefighters, police officers, and others play in ensuring the health and safety of British Columbian’s, this Act guarantees that they will receive timely support and treatment when they are suffering from exposure to traumatic events.
Raising awareness to any cause is a extremely difficult task.
Especially when it involves Emergency Service Providers and their families on an international level, adding to it, the fact that in Canada alone over the past 2 years, 179 First Responders have died by suicide.
YOU are driving down the road, holding your wife’s hand, as the sound of your children’s giggles in the backseat warm your thoughts, when out of nowhere, S M A S H – you get hit by a truck who just ran a red light.
I don’t need to paint this picture, you see what I see, the smell of gasoline lingers in the air, your hardly conscious, you look to the backseat, there isn’t one, the sound of flames crackle in the background as you can barely reach for your cell phone to call 911.
“Dispatch 911, what is your emergency?”
You explain the tragically gruesome scene to the dispatch agent.
Response from the Agent –
“Sorry but we can’t respond to your emergency right now, but if you go visit our website, and take the next 3 months time to simply jump through all our bullshit hoops, then please get signed off by 3 different doctors, and check yourself into a treatment center, but before you do that, you will also need to submit your last 15 years of medical records, then if you do have any money left, we will need you to just answer 750 of our scientifically proven to make sense to somebody questionnaire”.
If you haven’t taken your own life by that point from watching your family suffer more and more each day, we will be sure to give you a few more meds to numb the pain and your suicidal thoughts, umm wait sir, before you hang up – we will need to confirm your mailing address so we can be sure to mail your very first denial with 37 more pages of hoops to jump through before you begin the appeal process.
Thank you for calling Worksafe BC, we sincerly hope all works out for you, and if you do live long enough to make your way through all the smoke and mirrors, not to worry, we do have 3 more departments on stand by that make bigger salaries than you would in 20 years of your life to be sure you DO NOT PASS GO.
Our current system, through WorkSafe BC, is NOT DESIGNED TO HELP in any way shape or form.
THIS IS THE EXACT PROCESS THAT 1000’s of our Canadian Emergency Service Providers currently are dealing with on a daily basis when they finally do reach out for help after they have suffered in silence long enough after many years of responding to our emergencies.
Your sit and question yourself as you thought you called 911 to get help, but all seems like a total blurr now, cause all of what you just heard is absolute “HOGWASH BULLSHIT”, and is so absolutely unbelievable, you begin to feel you’re in some sort of time warp on another planet.
I did not look up these facts on the internet, I have personally lived through this procedure, and answer my phone 24 hours a day from many Police Officers, Paramedics, Corrections Officers, Firefighters, Nurses, and Dispatch 911 Operators across Canada, who some are now on their 3rd – 9th year suffering minute by minute as they try and prove they deserve the help the minute they ask for it, just as we get the help the minute we call 911.
IT’S TIME TO MAKE THE CHANGES – NOW – WITH ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSES – P E R I O D.
It breaks my heart at least 3 times a day over this last year and a half with the amount of tears shed, the amount of families I’ve listened to that are no longer. The amount of sadness in the voices I hear. All they did was their job, and now to be treated like criminals in a court of law, trying to prove their PTSD is work related.
People ask me, “Hey Terrance, why in the hell are you flipping that tractor tire up the side of a glacier, waist deep in snow, in -10 degree weather?
The answer is as simple as this, we can raise awareness to PTSD all we want, but how about some cold hard facts about our system which has yet to educate us properly on the signs and symptoms of PTS or give immediate treatment for those who suffer with them?
After many years of peeking our the blinds, the loss of my family, friends and careers, the amount of years I’ve spent contemplating suicide, the amount of ridiculous hoops I’ve jumped through, how many times I’ve had a rifle down my throat or side of my head, the amount of tears shed, and doors closed is my face, or knives in my back.
I will climb to the top of every mountain around the world for the rest of my life until one day we can help make changes so NO OTHER Emergency Service Provider or their family will ever have to endure that sort of pain and suffering for another minute.
ITS NOT WEAK TO SPEAK … so I just did.
My deepest, most sincere apologizes that this post is not full of unicorns, rainbows, and pink balloons, but there is just no way I can sit here and candy coat a very serious topic like Post Traumatic Stress, and the facts that our current Provincial Government / Workers Compensation Act is not helping our Emergency Service Providers that suffer from a Post Traumatic Stress Injury the minute they ask for it.
Please, take a minute to sign our petition, and share it with a friend, co worker, instagram it, tweet it, whatever it takes – NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH.
Terrance Joseph Kosikar is 43-years-old and lives in the beautiful back-country mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
On the opening day of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, a luge athlete by the name of Nodar Kumaritashvili, was killed during a training run at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
After crashing out of the exit of corner 16, Nodar had left the track clocking over 153 kph, hitting a solid steel post, with his body landing 20 feet away from First Responder Terrance Joseph Kosikar.
After doing CPR for over an hour, there was nothing more medical staff could do for Nodar.
He was pronounced dead and the games went on as if nothing had happened.
A year later Kosikar had quit his job as a medic at the Whistler Sliding Centre, checked into the Vancouver Coastal Health Detox centre and tried to seek help through WCB (Workers Compensation Board) after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Over the next 5 years, Kosikar lost his career as a POC Firefighter, Emergency Medical Responder, and volunteer Ski Patroller. He stopped playing on both of his hockey teams and quit coaching his stepson’s high school basketball team. He struggled with addiction, three attempted suicides, and the loss of his family of 13 years.
Last year, three denials later, after not being able to prove his PTSD was work-related through WCB, and still not getting any help for a wound that was not visible, he was trying to survive homeless and hungry in the Downtown Eastside. Exhausted with life, he found himself on the Lions Gate Bridge ready to jump.
Something within him however stopped him. It got him off the bridge and took him into the backcountry where he struggled for weeks withdrawing from all the medications, away from the distractions and losses he had endured over the years.
Within four weeks of having that personal time to heal, he had never felt better in his entire life. He could finally see straight again and have control over his thoughts and feelings, with a better understanding that everything that had happened had not been his fault. As Kosikar says, “It’s just the way my destiny was written.” He believes that everything that had happened, was to prepare him for this next part of his journey – helping others who live and struggle with PTSD.
Newly healed, Kosikar spent three months without a penny to his name, working hard towards starting a camp for other First Responders who live with PTSD and who may have lost their jobs, their families and are contemplating suicide. A camp that will give them one last chance to get their life back, as he did.
In that three month period Kosikar worked 20 hours per day and raised over $82,000 through sponsorships and ran Phase 1 of Camp My Way.
When Phase 1 of Camp My Way ended last year, Kosikar wanted to do something that would not only bring more awareness to PTSD, but also serve the memory of Olympic Luge Athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili, who had died in his care five years earlier.
On February 12th, 2016, six years to the day that Nodar had passed away, Kosikar started Breaking the Chains BC.
He chose to flip a 400 pound tractor tire 30 kilometers in 30 days, across seven mountains while wearing 52 pounds of solid steel chains.
Kosikar learned that he was truly not alone in the battle with PTSD. In the last two years, over 150 Canadian First Responders have died by suicide. Those numbers are for firefighters, police officers, paramedics and military personnel who had been diagnosed with PTSD.
This number really bothered Kosikar so he decided to fly over to Germany to learn what their suicide rate is for their First Responders. To Kosikar’s suprise, there has not been ONE SINGLE first responder who has taken his or her own life from living with PTSD in Germany.
Why? When a First Responder is diagnosed with PTSD, he or she gets help THAT SAME DAY, no questions asked, no hoops to jump through, no years of trying to prove their PTSD is work-related.
It is presumed that because of the nature of their job – with all that they see and take home with them each day – that their PTSD is work-related and they get the help they need immediately.
Upon learning this one month ago, Kosikar wanted to draw attention to the fact that WCB does NOT recognize PTSD as a workplace injury.
He chose July 1st, Canada Day, to come to the Legislature in Victoria BC to flip his tire while still shackled in over 50 pounds of steel chains, to inform the public of the changes that need to be made and allow people to sign a petition that will try convince the BC government to make changes immediately.
So far over 300 First Responders and members of the public have signed the petition in the last week.
Last year, Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba First Responders secured the help they need immediately through Worksafe in their provinces.
Yet British Columbia First responder still have to suffer in silence and do NOT get the help they need from WCB.
When we need a firefighter, a paramedic, or a police officer, they come no questions asked. Perhaps it is time they received the help they need after working for us, with no questions asked.
PTSD – Not All Wounds are Visible. A petition to help bring awareness can be signed here.
Click hereto learn more about Breaking the Chains.
Update: After reading the story, Scott McCloy, the Media Relations at WorkSafeBC sent Victoria Buzz the following statement:
“WorkSafeBC applauds Mr. Kosikar’s hard work and resilience to overcome his many challenges and we wish him every success going forward. While Mr. Kosikar’s claim for benefits was not accepted, the article mistakenly states that Mr. Kosikar had to prove his case. This is incorrect. Workers’ compensation in British Columbia is an inquiry-based system in which it is WorkSafeBC’s job to inquire into the circumstances that have led a worker to file a claim for compensation services and to accept a claim where the evidence indicates the injury was caused by their work. In Mr. Kosikar’s case, the claim was not accepted and as the article points out, Mr. Kosikar went to appeal, which also did not find in his favour. I am precluded from providing further information because it is Mr. Kosikar’s private information; however, I can advise the reviews by WorkSafeBC and the review body were extensive.”
“The story also asserted that WorkSafeBC does not accept claims for PTSD, which is also incorrect. WorkSafeBC regularly accepts claims for mental disorders from first responders as well as other workers, and will continue to do so. We know that first responders face single and cumulative trauma incidents and stressors that may impact their mental health at work. There are a variety of supports in place for psychologically fragile clients, including a centralized mental health clinic in Richmond, with both psychologists and mental health staff on staff, as well as other supports.”
While we appreciate McCloy’s response to the story, isn’t this the exact thing Kosikar is fighting back against?
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.”
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.”
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.