Hundreds of firefighters and other first responders from across the country will gather in Richmond on Monday to honour a firefighter who died of work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Capt. Donald “Bryan” Kongus, 44, died in August. IAFF Local 1286, the Richmond firefighters’ union, and his family asked to delay his memorial until WorkSafeBC could determine what caused his death.
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The agency determined Kongus died as a direct result of his job, meaning he would receive a full-honours funeral given to firefighters who die in the line of duty.
IAFF Local 1286 president Cory Parker said it’s important to recognize that Kongus “served the citizens of Richmond for 22-plus years and eventually the job was what killed him,” Parker said.
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“For WorkSafe to recognize that is important for us. It validates the things that we’re saying… Hopefully this will help others in the future,” he said.
Parker said Kongus, like a lot of first responders, “experienced some things that people aren’t meant to see” but failed to get the help he needed.
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“Early intervention is the key, to get the proper treatment, the proper help,” he said. “Bryan didn’t have that through his career. He was late diagnosed with PTSD and it eventually just consumed him.
“He’s one of the ones who slipped through the cracks.”
Parker hopes that the memorial will pay homage to Kongus’ contributions to the community and raise awareness of the issue of PTSD in first responders.
“It’s going to be a sad occasion, for sure, but we’re going to honour his life.”
The memorial will feature a procession through the streets of Richmond where residents can pay their respects. It will begin at 10:20 a.m. at 10851 Shellbridge Way and end at Fraserview Church on Mellis Drive.
A private service will take place at 11 a.m.