Last week was a difficult week for first responders in the Alberni Valley.
On Sunday, they turned out in force to say farewell to Sproat Lake firefighter Carla Kulczycki, who died of work-related cancer. On Tuesday, members of the Port Alberni Fire Department were preparing to attend a funeral for retired member Bruce Trenholm when they were called to the first fatal car accident on Burde Street at Carriere Road.
Port Alberni RCMP’s detachment was already two members down after they were hit with bear spray earlier that morning while responding to a different accident. They had to call neighbouring detachments for help.
As the fog became even thicker and day transitioned into evening, first responders were called to yet another serious motor vehicle accident, this one on Highway 4 just past Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s hall on the highway. Unfortunately, someone died in this incident as well.
On Wednesday, firefighters in Cherry Creek and around the Alberni Valley learned that another colleague, Brian Brick, died of work-related cancer.
It goes without saying that many residents are grieving family members or friends after two fatal car accidents in one day, and we are not taking away from their losses in the wake of these tragedies.
It is easy to forget that first responders, although carrying out their jobs, are also human. They are there when we are suffering our worst moments, and we rely on them as our strength to get us through tragic situations. They expend all their energy investigating to ensure those involved in major accidents receive the answers that inevitably follow.
They live in our community too, and are sometimes called upon to help people they know.
When the emergencies are over, sites cleaned up, gear packed away, and the adrenalin stops flowing, those first responders must also deal with the personal fallout of attending serious accidents.
First responders are a special type of person: they dedicate their time and careers to helping others in their time of need. It is important that we recognize, respect and respond to them when it is their turn for help.
— Alberni Valley News