Stepping up in wake of tragedy

This week's reporter column tackles the devastation of a motel fire in Bashaw.

By now, everyone has heard of the very tragic and fatal fire that occurred earlier this month.

The blaze not only destroyed the Bashaw Motor Inn and took away a place to stay for people and a home for the family that owned and operated the business. But, it also took with it the life of an individual as well as shook the region.

However, like the majority of small rural Alberta communities when disaster strikes, Bashaw and area has rallied together to do all it can to help.

Many residents, businesses and organizations have stepped up to the plate with all kinds of donations to help support the family along with the individuals displaced by the fire.

A fundraising effort online which can be reached at www.gofundme.com/tiwanafamily began within hours that has now far exceeded its initial $10,000 goal by nearly double, a trust fund has been established at the local Servus Credit Union and a local effort from the Bashaw Fire Department to raise donations for the food bank was also used to collect cash donations to support the family affected.

I’m sure I’m missing something, but the point is Bashaw continues to put forth a tremendously huge effort to do all it can to help one of its own in their time of need.

And the support isn’t simply all from those residents, there have been donations coming from nearby communities, rural residents, people formerly from Bashaw, friends of locals and complete strangers based on their compassionate attitude or the fact they or someone they knew went through something similar.

It’s always amazing, though it shouldn’t be, to see a community pull everything out of a hat to make sure a tragedy doesn’t have to mean suffering for lack of some necessity. In an emergency, having that to count on is a wonderful feeling, even if you may not yet be able to grasp the entirety of it.

Let’s not forget

As a first responder and a firefighter, I know all too well the dangers all of the emergency personnel faced on that early morning and I just want to ensure the efforts of the EMS, RCMP and members of the fire departments from Bashaw, Mirror and Maskwacis as well as any of the people that assisted them are given their due recognition.

However, there remains an even greater threat for those that were involved in the operation, something a lot of people can fail to recognize and where quick help is certainly needed.

That threat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

An event of this magnitude, even more so given the fact a life was lost and the potential of emergency responders knowing the people involved, the need for people to be free to talk to others about how they’re feeling, why they feel that way and simply being allowed to vent any anger, frustration or other emotions is extremely important.

Whether that means seeking out formal counselling through Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams used by many emergency response agencies, talking to a someone spouse, relative, coworker, friend or contacting a local health or mental health professional, this is definitely something you need to do.

A thing you may think is small, and try to brush it off as insignificant, can come back days, weeks or years later with a trigger often as simple as a smell or the sight of something that can send you into a sobbing mess, an intense depression or worse, suicide.

So, if you know of someone involved in the incident or notice something with yourself, let’s not forget. Search out a helping hand or listening post.

Trust me, it does help.

But that is…just an observation.

 

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