I am feeling a tremendous sense of gratitude

I am feeling a tremendous sense of gratitude because today is my ten year anniversary of surviving a near fatal helicopter accident on the Straylor Fire. I am still breathing while also retaining the ability to enjoy love, life and this beautiful world we all inhabit. The ability to make this statement at this ten year mark is why I feel so grateful.

It took unbelievable good fortune to even survive this helicopter crash but it also took 67 men and women firefighters ready to risk their own lives during extreme wild-land fire behavior after the crash to save my life as well.

In addition it is my experience that it takes family and a community to heal a firefighter. I was severely injured, both physically and emotionally from this accident, and being able to return to a life like I knew it was not a given. So many people contributed in so many ways to make my recovery possible, and this includes family, friends, co-workers, peer support, nurses, physical therapists,mental health clinicians, doctors and surgeons.

We live in a society that values strong individualism where people should be able to pull themselves up by their own boot straps after taking a fall. And I can understand why this concept is valued the way it is, but I can also say that after surviving a life changing event like this one that there is an overwhelming reaction to feel isolated and alone with all consuming fear that is normal for post-traumatic stress injuries. I believe there is equal value in having the courage to ask for help, especially when everything seems crazy emotionally. And I could not sing this declaration of hope and joy today if there were not equally courageous men and women of character, filled with compassion and understanding, ready to lean out their hand to help and support me along the way in my recovery when literally everything that I valued looked so uncertain.

To everyone who were there for me during these many years, a most sincere thank you!