Chad Kennedy was one of the initial first responders at the scene of the fatal bus rollover at Columbia Icefield in July 2020.
“I remember feeling helpless. There were so many seriously injured. “Unfortunately, everything we carry in our patrol cars are standard first aid kits,” said Kennedy, who is an Alberta highway patrol sheriff in Calgary.
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Three people were killed and 14 others sustained life-threatening injuries that day.
“It was not only a bad scene to attend, but very dangerous to climb up and down boulders,” Kennedy said.
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His experience helping victims that day has already exacerbated existing problems. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2018 and reached out for help a year ago.
“There is always the feeling of disconnection and disassociation with family and friends. You tend to isolate with post-traumatic stress. “It’s a very personal injury and not a lot of people talk about it,” Kennedy said.
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Lauren Cleveland knows all about it. The former correctional officer who grew up in Calgary is married to a Camrose police officer. She recently took the To serve and connect the Association of Canada.
It is a non-profit organization that aims to build connections for first responders and their partners by helping them navigate their unique lifestyle.
“Many of us do not even know what our partner sees. They come home and they are disconnected and they are disassociated and you ask, ‘What happened today?’ And they do not want to talk about it, “said Cleveland.
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To Serve and Connect Society offers resource workshops to help first resources and families with addictions, sleep, finances, motivation and coping with trauma.
“The impact on families is significant, especially if your partner has seen something that causes them to go through this trauma,” Cleveland said.
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Kennedy said the counseling he eventually received helped him and his family. He is currently on medical leave and going through weekly sessions with a psychologist and occupational therapist.
“When you call for help, you expect us to be strong, and we often hide behind that uniform. “It is our strength, but among us, people have been hurt,” Kennedy said.
To Serve and Connect will hold its first retreat February 25 – 27 at Camp Kindle northwest of Calgary.
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