One would have to be living under a rock or at the bottom of the ocean to not have heard about the disaster that took the lives of 15 members of the Saskatchewan SJHL hockey team the Humboldt Bronco’s. Much has been said, even when there hasn’t been a lot to say as the events of the incident are still being investigated.
I feel for the team members who were killed in this tragedy, and even more so for the survivors who have to carry the burden of survivor’s guilt with them for the rest of their lives.
I feel for the truck driver, who has to live with this on his conscience. I just thank God that he has been able to stay under the radar and that the trolls who have been attacking him have been kept to a minimum. He surely lives in jail cell of his own mind that he will never be able to escape, and that will be worse than any punishment the courts can hand out, if it goes that far. The RCMP continue to investigate all aspects of this incident, and I have faith in them that their investigation will draw the conclusions that are able to describe what caused this horrible event. If criminal acts resulted in this tragedy, the individuals responsible need to be held to account. If this is just a tragic accident on a poorly designed section of highway, I hope that the public can accept that, and call for changes to be made from their individual government bodies.
I feel for the first responders who were at the scene of this wreck. I know firsthand that as good as the training is, NOTHING can begin to prepare you for the sort of devastation that was witnessed by the responding emergency crews. I have heard it said by people not involved in first response that these responders should know what they are dealing with when they sign up for the job. There was even one point in my life, early in my public safety career that I would have echoed that sentiment. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. However these calls do take a toll on these who work on the front lines of public safety. Every accident, every death that we on the frontline are witness to chips away at our humanity. I am blessed that I never had to respond to a mass casualty event such as this in my career. The motor vehicle collisions I did respond to were bad enough. I remember one call in particular where two heavy vehicles had connected at speed. The devastation on that call is forever seared into my mind. I remember thinking that with the damage it looked like a bomb had gone off. By all accounts, from the pictures that have been released of this team involving the Humboldt team, being first on scene and witnessing this is almost impossible to imagine. My heart goes out to you guys who responded to this. I’m out of the game, but I am still on the sidelines watching and ready to help however I can.
To any first responders who have found themselves in the aftermath of witnessing the worst that any of us can see, I’m standing beside you. I know that initially you will shrug things off. You will get back into routine, and you will get back on the apparatus the next time the tones drop. But you will be changed. Maybe not obviously at first, but it will build in time. I urge you to reach out. Take advantage of any critical incident stress debriefings that are offered. Find someone to talk to. A friend. A colleague. A pastor. For your own sake, talk it out, make sense of what happened in your own mind. For the next days and weeks self care is going to be of prime importance. Be nice to yourself and get in front of this building pressure before you reach for harmful outlets, be it be alcohol, drugs, or self harm. Get in front of it so you can remain effective doing the job you love. I didn’t deal as well as I should have, and I burnt out spectacularly to the point where I can not return, and I do not wish for anyone else to have that happen.
Thank a first responder for all that they do. You may make their day. I know that tomorrow I am going down to our local coffee shop and setting up a $20 gift card for our local crews.