Burn survivors no longer have to travel to the Lower Mainland to share experiences with other survivors.
The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund has expanded its adult burn survivors support program to the Island.
“We are now reaching out to burn survivors, who have not had access to a program of this nature, which is both empowering as well as supporting,” said Anne Coombs, The Future is Mine program director.
The program, which has operated in B.C. since 2004, hosted its opening ceremony in Victoria Saturday when burn fund representatives from Island fire departments gathered with about 20 burn survivors from Island communities, including Gwen Linski-Dulmage, The Future is Mine contact for burn survivors in the Nanaimo region.
Linski-Dulmage said it’s important to have people with shared experiences to turn to after leaving hospital care.
“When we were burned, many years ago, there wasn’t any support. There isn’t the support that you need, as in friendship and other people who have gone through the same thing,” Linski-Dulmage said. “That is so important because one of the things, especially when you have a facial burn, you look in the mirror and you don’t know that person. That was probably one of the scariest things I had to go through, not knowing who that was. You’re not recognizing yourself and then you’re forever changed and a burn situation is just that – it’s forever-changing.”
The program provides those support contacts through social events, activities and meetings specifically for adult burn survivors who often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and must heal at their own pace.
“This inaugural meeting was just for burn survivors, not their families, and now it’s going to grow and the support group’s going to grow within their families also,” said Umesh Lal, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer and B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund Island Regional Director.
He said the program will also connect fundraiser community events, burn fund representatives and burn survivors to help promote the program.
The Vancouver Island program activities have been laid out for the coming year and can be viewed on the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund website at http://burnfund.org and clicking on the Adult Survivors tab.
To make a local connection, please call Linski-Dulmage at 250-740-1848.