My constituency office was located in Lynn Valley Village for 10 years. I know almost all of the long-time shop owners, their staff and often visited the library talking with children and their parents or handing out medals at their annual end-of-summer reading club ceremonies. Lynn Valley Village hosts fantastic local bands every summer at their Friday night concert series, a Santa Claus parade at Christmas, and many other events throughout the year.
Last Saturday rocked our world and put us on the national news for all the wrong reasons. We now grieve the loss of one of our citizens, and pray for the recovery, both physical and mental, of the six other victims and their families from a heinous crime that no one understands.
Many by-standers stepped up and helped those injured. Shopkeepers helped with first aid and protected the traumatized children and their families. Within hours, go-fund-me pages were set up to help the victims and their families and a make-shift memorial of flowers continues to grow on Lynn Valley Road at the entrance to the village.
The North Vancouver RCMP came quickly and prevented further carnage and saved lives. The fire service and ambulances helped treat the victims and their traumatized friends and families. Our First Responders worked overtime that day and they continue to grieve with us. Police put their lives on the line every day, but at the same time deal with groups who want to defund them.
I have gone on ride-alongs with police and witnessed first hand the toll of the types of calls they deal with, often with mental health or addictions issues at the centre.
Firefighters are often the first at the scene, and it is them who run INTO burning buildings when we all flee. I have participated in BCPFFA Fire-ops training sessions and know how physically gruelling their jobs are, the weight of their gear and the agility required. Not only do the paramedics treat victims at the scene, they rush them to hospital where they wait with their patients, until the doctors or nurses take over.
All of these vital workers are already stressed because of COVID-19 but they press on and do their stressful jobs — every day. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and some try and hide their own trauma from their families and friends. Many self-medicate and don’t get the help they need because of stigma. Most of us take them for granted and have no appreciation of the horror they witness when they arrive at the scene.
As our community grieves and tries to make sense of what happened last Saturday, let’s not forget those who deal with tragedy every day that we rarely notice, until it happens to us. Let us not forget the fear and adrenalin surging through their bodies when they approach an incident where they have no idea what they will find. And let us not forget the 911 operators, the coroners, and the investigators who have to deal with the first line of contact and then the aftermath, to put together the pieces to make sense of what doesn’t make sense at all.
Our community is indebted to our first responders each and everyday. Let’s not forget to give them a hug as soon as this pandemic is over.
Jane Thornthwaite was the MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour and continues to be a huge advocate for the firefighters, police and paramedics in North Vancouver.