Firefighters living at the Vernon Fire Camp as they battle the White Rock Lake fire are getting a much-needed and much-wanted helping hand.
Well, actually, they’re getting quite a few hands.
Physical therapists, chiropractors and registered massage therapists in Vernon have banded together to offer free treatments for the exhausted firefighters.
Hyder Bos-Jabbar, 33, a 16-year professional firefighter from Whitehorse, is totally in favour.
“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this at any fire camp,” said Bos-Jabbar, moments after getting a treatment at the camp, where massage tables are lined up between second and third base at the old Kin Race Track softball diamond #1.
“I’ve been across B.C., Alberta, Ontario and the U.S. and nothing like this has ever been offered. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The more I think about it, the more it should be a staple.”
Bos-Jabbar felt great after his treatment.
“I got a bit of an adjustment and a massage. It cleared up a lot of things I didn’t realize I was compensating for,” he said.
Working on this particular Sunday evening (Aug. 29) at the camp was Vernon registered massage therapist Anna Van de Vosse from Tri Lake Massage and Wellness. Van de Vosse is one of the organizers of the fire camp mini-wellness clinic.
The idea came about after a large part of Vernon was put on an evacuation alert because of the fire, and Van de Vosse said that’s when things became quite real as to how vulnerable residents are and how much the firefighters are needed.
She would then drive past the fire camp at Kin Race Track daily on her way to and from work.
“It’s 38 degrees, they’re sleeping in their tents and doing their 12-hour shifts, and as a therapist, we see that and think that’s got to be rough on them,” said Van de Vosse. “So a bunch of us in town wanted to figure out how we could get in here (fire camp) and just give back any way we can.”
Van de Vosse put the word out via social media and many chiropractors, physios and registered massage therapists responded to help out, coming in for night shift duty at the camp after doing their regular shift during the day because they want to say thanks to the men and women on the fire lines.
The treatment response, she said, has been terrific, but the volunteers’ supply can’t keep up with the demand.
“They’re walking injured, walking wounded and put up with it and go back at it the next day,” said Van de Vosse of the firefighters. “To have any kind of treatment or even a bit of attention to realize they’re appreciated goes a long way. It’s been really positive, but we do not have enough hands to treat the need or desire. It’s hard to turn people away every night.”
The treatments began Friday, Aug. 27, and Van de Vosse said volunteers are organized until Saturday, Sept. 4.
“That’s not saying it won’t continue, but that’s just the organized portion,” she said.