And while Ontario has recently pledged to do more to support traumatized first responders, that’s not enough, according to Savoia. Vaughan, with two years of firefighting under his belt, echoes Landry, acknowledging that when he hears the siren ring, the adrenaline kicks in and people get pumped. On coping with the day-to-day, Vaughan said it helps him to remember his training from Humber College, which firefighters have to keep in mind: that they are there solely to help. Over these many years since I was first diagnosed with the affliction, I have experienced my share of negative responses to situations. Since the radio interview, I had the occasion to talk with others who have been affected by PTSD. A firefighter or police officer sometimes accompanies the paramedics to the hospital, and since Landry knew more first aid than the police, he went. Though firefighters are given many options for support at their stations (including debriefs after particularly traumatic calls, employee assistance program, peer counselling and anonymous hotlines to call) it is not difficult to imagine that they struggle to separate themselves from their work. If these reflections are not just a theory and a hug is indeed a therapeutic method of healing, it is my hope that others who suffer from PTSD will find some comfort through the soothing caresses of their family and friends. When I consider his words and the stories shared by fellow responders, I am convinced that those of us impacted suffer from the burden of responsibility.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with the other responders who have lost their lives or live with the multitude of diseases which destroyed their once powerful bodies and brilliant minds. Their main message to sufferers of PTSD is to let these people know that they are not alone. These responders sacrificed their lives to work tirelessly to rescue the injured, secure the sites, recover the remains of those lost and restore order to all of our lives.
Over the days, months and years of work completed, they not only continued to put their lives on the line, but opened their hearts to their fellow responders and the many families who lost their loved ones on that fateful day.
After a few hours on the scene, with the firefighters helping police and paramedics to remove people from the area and transport some to the hospital, Landry went back to the fire hall with his platoon to do maintenance on the truck and make sure his gear was in working condition before he went home.
In the early stages of the onset of the PTSD, flashbacks were a common occurrence in my daily life. Brutally killed in her Toronto apartment in 1988 by an escaped sex offender, the first responders on that day still grapple with what they saw. There, along with other representatives from the law enforcement profession, I first stepped onto that hallowed field. When first I wrote the initial two chapters of my book, I did so in response to the deep-seeded fear dwelling inside my soul.

Soon after his diagnosis, Savoia started the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Fund, an organization dedicated to reaching out and spreading awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in first responders.
Over time, the effects of the trauma became embedded in my psyche and soon it seemed that the PTSD overcame my entire being. Andrew Vaughan, 25, has been a firefighter at downtown Toronto fire station 314 for two years. This month’s fundraising dinner caps a week of conferences, and educational seminars for first responders, and experts in the field of counselling.
Despite the morbid realities of being a first responder, the inspiring and hopeful aspects of the job must not be forgotten. In the early 1980s, Landry had been a firefighter for just two months in Vaughan, Ontario and the 9-1-1 calls had been few and far between.

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