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.
Though it has been almost seven years, Terrance Kosikar’s voice still fills with emotion when he recalls the tragedy.
Kosikar, 43, was a first responder at the Whistler Sliding Centre when Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili fatally crashed during a training run on the day of the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Though he went back to work after the traumatic event and put on a happy face, a downward post-traumatic stress spiral had begun.
Kosikar tried to commit suicide several times in the coming years and fell into drug addiction due to the guilt and flashbacks over the fatal crash, he told The Squamish Chief.
Recovery for Kosikar has been a long road that includes keeping fit, spending time in nature and finding purpose in helping others with the disorder.
Over the last year he has worked to raise awareness about PTSD and to lobby for change to both attitudes and legislation that hinders first responders’ access to help.
Kosikar is launching a book about his experiences and a new campaign this February.
“The true facts of why we are where we are today,” he said of the self-published book, Let the Games Begin, that will be launched Feb. 12 on the seventh anniversary of Kumaritashvili’s death. The book will chronicle Kosikar’s life and the events surrounding the death.
He will be flipping a huge tractor tire in Olympic Plaza to draw attention to his cause, starting at 1 p.m. that day. The event will launch Kosikar‘s “It’s Not Weak To Speak” campaign that will take him on a 1,152-kilometre journey around B.C.
The campaign aims to de-stigmatize the disorder and gain further support for a private member’s bill he inspired last year.
Shane Simpson, Member of the Legislature for Vancouver-Hastings, introduced the private member’s bill M203, Workers Compensation Amendment Act 2016, in the legislative assembly in February.
Should the bill, which passed unanimously on first reading, ultimately be adopted, WorkSafeBC will assume a first responder who develops PTSD did so because of their job. Alberta and Manitoba already have such legislation.
Currently in B.C., Kosikar said it is a complicated process to be approved for benefits through WorkSafe if the claim is for PTSD. He was denied both his original application and his appeal and asked for 10 years of his medical records in the process, he said.
“We know today that first responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, 911 dispatchers, sheriffs and corrections officers, suffer PTSD at more than double the rate of the general population,” Simpson said when introducing the bill, according to the official transcript published on Simpson’s website.
Since 2014, 179 Canadian public safety and military personnel have died by suicide, according to The Tema Conter Memorial Trust, which tracks such deaths.
A WorkSafeBC spokesperson said the organization could not comment on proposed changes to legislation, but said if applicants were not happy with a WorkSafe decision they could appeal.
Between July 2012 until Dec. 31, 2015, WorkSafeBC accepted 415 claims for PTSD, according to the spokesperson.
The organization is currently adjusting its tracking requirements so that future data can reflect claims that are initially filed, but that information is not currently available.
For those who may be suffering with PTSD, Kosikar said the key is to reach out.
“Talk to your friend, your brother, your co-worker, your boss,” he said. “What you are living with and feeling today, there are many other people out there who feel the same way.”
For more on Kosikar’s campaign go to, itsnotweaktospeak.com.
If you feel suicidal call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). For mental health support call 310-6789 (no prefix needed).
After hours of intense interrogation, by Constable Leonard Isaac, of the Tribal Police Stl’Atl’Imx, Mr.Terrance Joseph Kosikar refused to testify and is protected under s. 13 of the Charter from having any incriminating statements “used to incriminate himself in any proceedings against him at this time.
Kosikar says, “It’s not very often you see many people where I live out here in the backcountry, so today was very odd to me when I heard the rumble of a truck creeping its way up the long road to my cabin. I got the binoculars out, and to my surprise, it was a Tribal Police Truck.”
Kosikar admits he immediately ran inside the cabin and put all the guns away..grabbed his camera and started filming this unique situation. Ya see, even when people get shot up here or stabbed, its still very rare for the police to show up. (more…)
3 weeks ago while I was in Victoria, I had received an email from a man, thanking the Breaking the Chains BC team for helping save his life during a PTSD Awareness event we had just completed only 2 days prior.
I asked the man to please call me ASAP, and gave him my phone number.
Within minutes, I answered the call from a man named Rand Vance.
He explained that his life had been pretty rough over the years, since a young age (will not get into details in this post) and this was a special day for him because he was handed one of our flyers from one of our very dedicated PTSD WARRIORS.
He looked up our website and learned more about what we we’re doing to help support those who suffer in silence and are living with Post Traumatic Stress. He went through many of our past videos and was very inspired by our message, and felt he was NOT ALONE, and could reach out to us.
So he did.
After hearing Rand Vance story, it had touched my heart so much, that we at Breaking the Chains BC decided that day to do ANOTHER #PTSD / #mentalhealth program for Aug 20th (this past weekend).
Now the second best part of the story, I had opened my facebook the next day to see that Rand had taken it upon himself to start doing the #22pushupchallange and help raise awareness to the 22 soldiers who die by suicide in America each day who suffer with PTSD.
I had watched his video of day one, trying to do his 22 push ups ..and it brought so many tears to my eyes, after hearing his life story and here he was now raising awareness himself to PTSD and dong his best to do so …upon watching him struggle and bang out 14 of his 22 push-ups ..that was the best he could do …it confirmed my personal belief that ..I had now found MY HERO.
I gave him my word on the phone a few days earlier that we would meet in person and we would do another PTSD awareness program on Aug 20th.
Now the best part, Rand Vance shows up 1 hour early on Aug 20th and tells me he doesn’t feel comfortable in crowds and that he’s afraid of being in large groups.
I explained to him as the bus loads of warriors showed up, that WE ARE ALL THERE TO SUPPORT each other and connect together.
Rand, still explained to me that he was not comfortable with so many people around him. I put my paw on his shoulder, looked him in he eyes, and assured him ..he is safe, and in good hands as I looked up to the universe above and smiled.
The video you’re about to watch says it all, as I have no words that will ever describe how it feels to have watched Rand lead over 70 Warriors doing 22 push ups to raise awareness to the 22 soldiers who die by suicide each day in America.
Thank you Rand Vance, you Sir are not only MY HERO, but a huge inspiration to all.
JULY 23 – 24th (11 am start) ENGLISH BAY – FIRST STEP HOPE
FORMER BC FIRST RESPONDER RAISING AWARENESS TO PTSD by flipping a 400 pound tractor tire several kilometres while shackled in over 50 pounds of solid steel chain.
On July 23rd- 24th,Terrance Joseph Kosikar will be flipping his tire in English Bay and around the sea wall ( Stanley Park) for another few kilometres to raise awareness to PTSD. By raising awareness about this debilitating mental illness, his hope is to help First Responders suffering from PTSD get the support and treatment they need.
Feb 12, 2016
Kosikar flipped a 400 pound tractor tire 30 kilometres in 30 days through the Cayoosh Mountains of BC wearing 52 pounds of solid steel chain. The symbolism is clear and poignant. The chains of PTSD are invisible but no less constraining and burdensome than steel – and the dead weight of public and bureaucratic misunderstanding and indifference as awkward and unwieldy to move forward as a huge tractor tire.
Upon completing his 30 day journey, he flew to Germany to work closely with the Bad Homburg Fire dept, Police Dept and Paramedics. Germany has no record of any First Responders ending their lives as a result of living with PTSD. In Canada in the last 2 years over 100 First Responders who had been diagnosed with PTSD have died by suicide. Kosikar wanted to know why the statistics are so startlingly different.
While in Germany, he took his tire and chains to a Harley Davidson Magic Bike week motorcycle rally in Ruedesheim and raised awareness to PTSD to over 20 000 bikers and members of NATO / First Responders
Upon arriving back in Canada on July 1st Canada Day, Kosikar took his tire over to the Legislature Building in Victoria BC to inform the public how WCB does not recognize PTSD as a workplace injury and ask them help by signing a petition “Presumption of Illness”. With the help of Victoria Buzz article on this event, so far there are 2400 signatures on the petition in the last 2 weeks.
February 12, 2016 marked the 6 year anniversary of the death of Nodar Kumaritshvilli. the Luge athlete killed just before opening ceremonies at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Kosikar was the First Responder to that fatal accident . Although he was well trained in a myriad of life saving techniques, he was not prepared to deal with the emotional impact sustained when those techniques were not enough. As a result of the fatality, he developed PTSD that launched him into a very costly downward spiral. During several years of severe depression, anxiety, nightmares, and substance abuse, he lost his family, career, and nearly his life.
Your coverage of this event will help raise crucial awareness to PTSD in First Responders, and help Break the Chains of Silence.
Trust me when I say, I know this was very sad and heartbreaking video to watch, I have had to live with this hurt, loss and feeling for 6 long years. Yes, even still to this day I teared up every minute I edited this video over the last few days. Nearly 70 HOURS straight.
I am sharing this emotional journey through this blog right now because there are 1000’s of First Responders around the world who live with, and are suffering the same mental disorder I have over the years.
Post Traumatic Stress is not something I was aware of and ultimately led me down many dark and life threatening paths over the years.
This is why we, yes you and I are on this path together today, to learn more and make more people aware of this life threatening condition.
Stay tuned daily for the entire story.
2 men died on Feb 12th 2010, and only this last year am I healthy enough to tell my story and take everything I have learned to help get Emergency Service providers get their lives back, their families back and their careers.
Thank you for the time you took today to listen, “Its all we really need from you”.
Huge smile, warm hug, so much respect to you for taking just 3 minutes of your day to hear me out and learn how you can help all Emergency Service Providers who suffer with PTSD worldwide.
ps. The only way we can make this program a success is if you help me please share it with one more person.