Fatal crash leaves deep scar for local volunteer firefighters

By Nigel Maxwell
October 10, 2018 - 2:52pm

For first responders, tragedies are a part of the job but sometimes they get personal too and that was the case late last month for a volunteer firefighters south of Wakaw.

The crash near Cudworth, involving a car and a combine, claimed the lives of two women. Cudworth/ Hoodoo Fire Rescue Captain Dave Yorke said it was very hard for the team.

"Small departments end up responding to scenes where there is potential for knowing the people that were involved and that was the case in this one," he said.

Supports are in place to help the team. Yorke said a debriefing was held after the fact with everyone involved, and with the Critical Incident Stress Management team. The team members involved are also closely monitored, and can be referred for further counselling. 

"We do have some newer people on our department that had not been exposed to what had transpired there on [Sept. 27], but again those are the ones we watch very carefully and we also set things up so they are not the ones immediately at the scene," he said.

Fire Chief Dar Lariviere, who is trained how to deal with PTSD and suicide intervention, was in the field for 38 years. He said mental health is handled very differenty nowadays.  

"Like when I was a young firefighter you were basically told 'Buck up; you're a man' but we don't do that anymore. Firefighters are allowed to cry; they are allowed to mourn. So we just stick together as a team and we help each other through it," he said.

Lariviere said the debriefings are mandatory whether someone is feeling bad or not. Everyone is given an opportunity to share their thoughts about what happened and all the discussion is kept behind closed doors.

"As chief my phone line is open 24 hours a day for these guys, and if they need to phone me, if they need to talk about it, that's fine," he said.

 

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