“When you hear 2,000 miles, it sounds like a long way,” says Thompson. “But, I got so much support along the way, I think I could have gone even further. Post-traumatic stress among first responders is very real and I am proud to do what I can to ensure there are resources out there to help them cope.”
As a 30-year veteran fire fighter, Thompson knows all too well how stressful the job can be. Wanting to do something more, Thompson began speaking with Vancouver General Hospital and the Kelty Online Therapy Service at Vancouver Coastal Health about what it would take to create a first responder-oriented post-traumatic stress treatment program. The initial price tag to get the program in place is $70,000.
As someone who developed healthy exercise habits in the fire service, Thompson decided to help raise the money and awareness, and planned the long ride to Colorado Springs.
Thompson began his ride in mid-August with his support team, giving himself a month to cover the long distance journey through Washington, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming before finishing in Colorado Springs.
Thompson came into the city escorted by his fellow members of the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Honor Guard. General President Harold Schaitberger greeted Thompson and the others on their arrival, discussing the importance of the post-traumatic stress issue. Schaitberger ended the conversation by presenting Thompson with an IAFF challenge coin.
“What Brother Thompson did to call attention to such an important issue is incredible,” says Schaitberger. “Our members witness incredible, tragic events every day. Thanks to efforts like this one, there will be more and more resources available for those who need assistance.”
Thompson says that even though his ride is over, he is not done. He wants to finish raising the money. Initially, he plans to approach businesses and other potentially interested parties to request donations. Beyond this program, he hopes to participate in other efforts to raise awareness and establish resources.
For fundraising updates, visit the PTSD Fire Ride web site.