Playing the links for PTSD

Organizers are hoping an upcoming golf tournament will raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders.

Ernie Dombrowski

Organizers are hoping an upcoming golf tournament will raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in first responders.

Money raised from the First Responder PTSD Awareness Charity Golf Tournament will be donated to the TEMA Center Memorial trust. Tema, a Canadian organization often referred to as ‘Heroes Are Human’, was established to offer resources and support to emergency services and military personnel. Through research, education, training and provision of peer and psychological support, Team aims to help these men and women when they need it most.

The funds will be donated in honour of Ernie Dombrowski, a Surrey firefighter who lost his long battle with PTSD and depression earlier this year, at the age of 44.

Pam Schuetze, one of the event organizers, says there have been a lot of recent situations with police officers and firefighters committing suicide, or admitting to coping with depression and PTSD.

“It’s a wound, just like any other physical wound that you can have. It’s just that it’s not a visible wound,” says Schuetze, adding that the message is getting out there to speak up.

“More and more people are willing to admit they’re suffering,” she comments.

When Schuetze started her career 23 years ago with Corrections Canada, she was trained physically, but not given formal mental training on how to cope with the unique stresses of the job. Schuetze says she is lucky to have not gone through any major incidents that caused her PTSD and says you just never know what you’re walking into on the job that day which can be very stressful.

Schuetze shares that for Dombrowski, who used to work with her in Corrections, becoming a firefighter was his “dream job.” But for him and many others, the pressures of the job and what they see and experience as part of their jobs takes a toll on first responders. According to the Tema Centre Memorial Trust, the prevalence of PTSD within Emergency Services is 16 to 24 per cent, compared to the general Canadian population of 8 per cent. As of May 8, 2015, 18 first responders and five military members have died by suicide this year, according to Tema.

While the spots for players are full at the upcoming golf tournament, organizers are looking for help from businesses for prizes and sponsorships. For $150, you can sponsor a hole, which includes your business name on a sign along with a fact about PTSD. For prizes, they are looking for gift certificates for restaurants, goods to give away to the golfers etc.

The tournament takes place Friday, September 11 at the Falls Golf and Country Club.

For any questions, if want to volunteer, or if you know someone that can sponsor the event in some way you can contact any of the hosts via Facebook messenger, or via email to Pam at pschuetze@me.com, Dylan at dylancrooks@shaw.ca or Rob at coachrob363@hotmail.com.