'This is your worst nightmare': Alvinston volunteer firefighter killed in crash
LONDON, ONT. -- Flags fly at half-staff at the Alvinston fire hall and the uniform of Tanner Redick is draped over the front of a fire engine as a memorial.
"As a volunteer firefighter, this is your worst nightmare," says Ron McCabe, Alvinston fire station chief.
Redick was killed Friday morning when his vehicle collided with a combine on Petrolia Line in Lambton county.
McCabe says "his heart dropped" when he got the call that is was Tanner in the crash, and while rushing to the scene he "couldn't get here fast enough."
"Unfortunately for us, working in our own community as volunteer firefighters, we do have this happen to us," says Kris Redick, Alvinston deputy station chief and Tanner's uncle.
"It's not the first experience we've had of this nature, but it's part of the job. If we didn't do it, who would?"
The 20-year-old volunteer firefighter with the municipality of Brooke-Alvinston was recently hired full-time by Six Nations Fire.
“ No words can adequately convey how our fire service family is feeling at this moment in time but we are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Six Nations Firefighter Tanner Redick while he was home visiting family & friends in Alvinston,” said Matthew Miller, Six Nations fire chief said in a statement.
“Our thoughts are with Tanner's family, friends and the Brooke Fire Rescue department.”
Many first responders suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but when they respond to a call involving one of their own it can be even more difficult to handle the side effects. Members of the Lambton County critical incident stress management (CISM) team were at the fire hall Sunday morning to speak with all firefighters who responded to the crash.
"Our job is to talk with firefighters when bad things happen to help them through it," says Tim Williams of the CISM team. "This is so they understand what they can do themselves to help feel better mentally and physically to get through bad situations."
Kris Redick feels having the stress management team speak is important. He knows first-hand the difficulties of dealing with the loss of team member. His father, who was chief of this same station died by suicide 24 years ago, and Redick suspects it was many of the things he saw in the line of duty that led him to take his own life. A 21 year firefighter, Redick adds it's just within the past decade that better measures are being put in place to deal with forms of PTSD.
"When I started we would hang up our coat and leave and deal with it in different manners," added Kris Redick. "Now we take appropriate action and deal with it as a team, and help de-escalate these situations and deal with it the right way."
Tanner was described as a "great firefighter" and having "exemplified everything for the fire service".
He was the latest in the line of the Redick family to choose fire services as a career, following in his grandfather and uncle's footsteps.
"It was an honour to have him under my command," says Kris Redick. "He just got hired at Six Nations as a career firefighter, and he had a promising future."
Memorial services begin with a firefighter walk through Wednesday, and a funeral at the Brooke Alvinston Inwood Community Centre Complex Friday.
More details on the services can be found here.