B.C. firefighters rally to help wounded Afghan colleague
'He has this infectious, warm personality,' says Langford assistant fire chief
A fire department on Vancouver Island is trying to get medical help for a wounded Afghan colleague who left a deep impression on Langford, B.C. firefighters during a training visit there nearly a decade ago.
Kandahar Fire Chief Ghulam Hazrat was badly hurt in a 2011 suicide bombing near Kandahar that left 18 people dead. Although Hazrat received treatment at the Kandahar Airfield base, he still needs follow-up surgery to treat abdominal wounds.
The city hospital in Kandahar isn't capable of performing that surgery, said Geoff Spriggs, Langford's assistant fire chief . But officials at the base, now predominantly American, have not permitted Hazrat to get his surgery there.
Hazrat travelled to Langford in 2008 for a training session. And firefighters there hope that by publicizing his plight, officials at the base will change their minds.
Spriggs said Langford firefighters are deeply fond of Hazrat and want to help.
"It's our responsibility," Spriggs said, adding firefighters around the globe share a bond. "It's the right thing to do and hopefully we can inspire someone to let him into the hospital."
Canadian Forces were once stationed at Kandahar Airfield base in southern Afghanistan during the country's involvement in the war.
Spriggs said that since Canada pulled its combat troops from the region in 2011, the fire department there has no Canadian contacts.
Firefighters hope that news of Hazrat's plight will prompt someone at the base to get him the surgery he needs.
Spriggs told All Points West guest host Megan Thomas that his warm personality won over firefighters.
"By the end of trip, there was this wonderful rapport. He had such a wonderful quality to him.
"And he was so interested to learn from us and so happy to share what he knew with us as well. It was just a wonderful experience."