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21st of October 2018

Health



Alberta firefighter remembered as a hero in MP’s emotional tribute

Darren Anderson lost his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder when he died by suicide on Sept. 15. On Friday, the Strathcona County firefighter was honoured in the House of Commons.

“From his earliest years, all Darren wanted to be was a firefighter, like his grandfather, father and uncle,” B.C. MP Todd Doherty said. “He wanted to be the best there was.”

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In his moving address, Doherty explained that he grew up with Anderson in Williams Lake. He said Anderson served 17 years with the Strathcona County Fire Department and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant.

“Darren loved life,” Doherty said. “He loved his family and he loved his job.”

“He even started the FireFit program for Strathcona County and just 12 days ago, he competed in the national FireFit challenge and won bronze for his age group.

“Sadly, seven days later, Darren lost his battle with PTSD.”

READ MORE: ‘Hope tree’ a gift to Fort McMurray from a 6- year-old Edmonton girl

Doherty spoke with Anderson’s parents Thursday night.

“Still reeling from the death of their son, their concern focused on those left behind: his friends, his family, his fire family, even the young paramedics that attended the Humboldt tragedy,” the MP said, his voice breaking.

“They asked me to convey this message to his colleagues: ‘Darren was so honoured and proud to be part of the firefighting and first responder family.

“Please take care of one another. Take a moment to ask one another if you are OK. Please be well.'”

Anderson leaves behind his wife Michelle and three daughters.

“To Gracie, Noah and Sophia — your dad truly was a hero and made a difference in the world,” Doherty said. “He touched the hearts of all who knew him and he will be greatly missed.”

READ MORE: Calgary fire captain’s death shines a light on first responders struggling with mental health

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to support the Anderson family.

This is the second time this month an Edmonton-area firefighter has died amid a battle with PTSD.

READ MORE: Edmonton firefighter’s death prompts discussion about PTSD, mental health

In a statement, the acting fire chief said members of the Strathcona County Emergency Services are deeply saddened by Anderson’s death.

“Lt. Darren Anderson was a highly respected, valued and active leader in our emergency services family — and a large part of our entire community,” Jeff Hutton said.

“Over the past few days, we have been focusing on the wishes of his family for privacy.

“As we grieve, we are working closely with Lt. Anderson’s family to follow their wishes and tend to their needs as best we can. As chief, my primary focus remains with the family’s needs and the needs of my first responders that I am responsible for,” Hutton added.

READ MORE: PTSD, suicide and first responders — A lot of talk, and not much progress

“There continues to be work ahead to ensure we have the supports available for our first responders when they need it most. That will come, but for now, we thank our colleagues, extended first responder families, partners, friends and family for their condolences and support as we process our grief.”

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