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Dec. 24, 2015, Beamsville, Ont. - I sat the other morning in the Village of Beamsville enjoying a coffee and watching the changing sky. I realized this was no longer a summer sky, nor even a fall sky. The sky and its cloud formations were now a winter sky. I consider us blessed to live in a part of the world that has four seasons. With each new season I look forward to the activities the season will bring.

December 24, 2014 
By Bruce Lacillade

Every year at this time I hear people complaining about how busy they will be and how much money they will spend over the Christmas season. For some of us Christmas also exacerbates to pain of a loss. This increases the risk of suicide in both first responders and the general public. Calls are up – more MVAs, more chimney fires; we may also experience financial and time constraints, family tensions or bereavement, it all adds up.

I hear some people saying that Christmas is just for the kids. I say hogwash. Christmas comes once a year to draw people in from the cold.

As first responders the public we serve doesn’t always understand us, we have our own subculture, our own rules and language. They don’t understand the bond we have with each other; we are indeed a brotherhood. We keep pushing forward into dangerous situations in order to save others while too often sacrificing ourselves.

So as Christmas and winter are upon us don’t let the demands of the season overwhelm you. Don’t feel that you have to do everything or go into debt just to impress other people. Keep your expectations modest. Don’t overbook yourself and don’t stay longer at gatherings than you want to. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings.


Next time we’ll look at symptoms of critical incident stress.

Merry Christmas.

Bruce Lacillade is retired from the Burlington Fire Department in Ontario, where he spent 10 years on the floor as a firefighter and the next 15 years as an inspector in fire prevention. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and the chaplain for the American Legion in Ontario and the United Council of Veterans (Hamilton and area). Bruce helps first responders, military personnel, veterans, and their families deal with what he calls moral injuries, or internal conflicts. Contact Bruce at

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