Calgary

Emotional trauma of deadly Calgary bobsled accident 'stays with us,' first responders say

The emergency responders called to the scene where two teens were killed and three others badly injured in a bobsled-track accident a year ago might forever be affected by memories of the horrific aftermath, according to an EMS spokesman.

Twin brothers killed, 3 friends badly injured at COP a year ago

Two brothers were killled and three other teens badly injured when they took an after-hours run down the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park last February. (CBC)

The emergency responders who were called to the scene of a deadly bobsled-track accident at Calgary Olympic Park a year ago might forever be affected by memories of the horrific aftermath, according to an EMS spokesman.

"As much as we're trained to do, see and forget — stuff like that stays with us for a long period of time, if not our lifetime," said EMS public education officer Adam Loria.

Twin brothers Evan and Jordan Caldwell were killed when they and six other teens, making an after-hours run down the bobsled track on toboggans, collided with a barrier placed partway down the track.

Caleb Hettinga suffered a fractured skull and lost an eye in the accident.

Mark Lyons needed major facial reconstructive surgery.

And David Carr sustained injuries to his head, neck and mouth.

The other three boys — Danny Spalding and brothers Eric and Wilson Schultz — suffered less serious injuries.

Jordan and Evan Caldwell 'were bright lights to all that knew them,' their family said in a statement following their deaths last February at the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. (Submitted by the Caldwell family)

Loria said it was an especially trying call for the paramedics to attend.

"We're trained to respond to that type of situation, to see … those types of injuries. We understand it's an inherent part of our jobs. However, we're humans too," he said.

Loria said all the dozen or so EMS personnel who were at the scene were excused from work for a period of time after the incident and provided with peer-to-peer support and volunteer counselling.

Fire department spokesperson Carol Henke says the emotional after-effects are different for every first responder.

"Over the last decade, we have gained a better understanding of the effects that incidents like the COP event can have on our members," she said.

"Traumatic calls, such as the horrific accident that happened at COP, do leave a mark on firefighters."

The firefighters who were at the scene all received a critical incident stress debriefing session after the incident.

They were also provided additional mental health resources which they can access at any time, she said.

Despite the challenges of the situation that night — the track was dark, and there was an unknown number of casualties spread out along the track — EMS crews were able to quickly and efficiently get the teens into waiting ambulances, Loria said.

Luckily, Foothills Medical Centre is not far from Canada Olympic Park, he added.

EMS public education officer Adam Loria says the bobsled accident was a difficult scene for paramedics to attend because it was so horrific. (CBC)

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