By Bruce Lacillade
Nov. 16, 2015, Beamsville, Ont. - It's been an interesting couple of months. We've had Thanksgiving, a federal election, and Remembrance Day. Just around the corner is Christmas and before we know it we'll be changing the calendars. Life goes on, but let us never fail to be thankful. From the beginnings of this country to Bagdad, there has always been a group of Canadians ready to step forward, place their lives and safety ahead of others.
I consider myself to be blessed in many ways; I have my health, I have a wonderfully dysfunctional family and I have wonderfully dysfunctional friends. Now I say this with love as I don't really believe that anyone's life, family or friends are perfect. Everyone experiences difficulties and I believe it is these difficult experiences that build character, make us stronger and develop our integrity.
In my last blog I said fire fighting is one of the most dangerous professions one can have. I also spoke about the slow, but steady, progression of firefighter health and safety. In the last few years more emphasis has been placed on workplace stress.
By now everyone should be familiar with the terms post-traumatic stress, compassion fatigue and peer support. Peer support is a reminder that as emergency first responders we are all in this together. If you go down at a call you can count on a crew member to get you out. The same is true if you are having difficulty processing certain calls, or are experiencing uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. You are not alone, none of us are; that's one of the reasons it's called a brotherhood or, if you will, a fire family.
Yes, you may put on the persona of being 10-feet tall and bullet proof, but we are all human and the bottom line is that when the s... hits the fan, we will be there for each other. Period!
As a veteran, a retired firefighter, and one who now counsels others, I learned the terms wounded warrior and vets helping vets. As a warrior elder I have passed on the baton to you. Do not be afraid to take it up. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to help a brother/sister. To serve others is a calling and a gift. I am proud to be a service person.
We are entering a wonderful time of year. The trees have lost their persona (leaves) and now show their inner strength and character. The weather will soon be much cooler and we will be breaking out sweaters and mittens, hot chocolate and hot apple cider. As the calls climb in the cooler winter months, this is a time for your true inner strength and beauty to shine forth.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org