Distress centre answering more calls after bus crash

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region is seeing an increase in calls from residents coping with anxiety and grief after the fatal bus crash Friday.

3 people died, 23 injured in Friday's crash at Westboro station

Police and first responders assist a man at the scene of a double-decker collision at Ottawa's Westboro station on Jan. 11, 2019. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region is seeing an increase in calls from residents coping with anxiety and grief in the wake of Friday's fatal bus crash.

Three people were killed and nearly two dozen injured when an OC Transpo double-decker bus slammed into a bus shelter at Westboro station at the start of Friday afternoon rush hour.

The distress centre is bringing in additional volunteers to help cope with the increasing number of calls since the crash.

"We have to remember that we are human, we have hearts, we have emotions and it's okay to feel the way that we are feeling," the distress centre's spokesperson Leslie Scott said Saturday morning.

"You want to make sure you are talking about it, and that you're dealing with those emotions and not bottling them up inside."

Some people who normally take that bus route are calling in while others are calling in to express their grief about the victims, she said. 

An increase in calls is typical after a local tragedy, Scott said. The centre, she added, has 200 trained volunteers standing by 24/7 in case these situations occur.

The volume of calls is expected to increase even more, she said, as time goes by and the shock begins to wear off.

Callers remember 2013 crash 

Scott said that Friday's incident can trigger anxiety for some Ottawa residents, as it's similar to the fatal collision between a double-decker bus and a Via Rail train in 2013.

"That was a horrific experience for so many people," Scott said. "Sometimes we don't actually realize that we have a trigger until something like this happens again and it triggers us."

Commuters are getting ready to board buses across the city after the fatal crash during rush hour on Friday. We check in on the Distress Centre, where there's been a surge in calls. 8:56

After Friday's crash, Scott said volunteers called in offering to help.

"When something like this happens, we often ask if anybody is available to come in," she said. "However we have some pretty amazing people who actually reached out before we did."

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region can be reached by phone at 613-238-3311.