Burn survivors tackle future

Oak Bay Fire hosts launch of project’s expansion to Vancouver Island

Oak Bay firefighters flank Stasi Manser

Oak Bay firefighters flank Stasi Manser

Like most things in life, everyone reacts differently to surviving injury inflicted by heat and fire.

Each burn survivor is alike, and different, says Stasi Manser.

“I grew up not being different,” said Manser, the eldest of five siblings. “I spent a lot of time not disabled in any way.”

Manser suffered third, fourth and fifth degree burns to over 90 per cent of her body in a childhood accident. She wasn’t expected to live. Her family kept faith in her strength, and a year and 11 days after the accident Manser returned home. What followed was decades of physical healing, travelling for treatment and thriving. She’s determined not to be seen as a person with a disability or handicap.

“I’ve had a full, enriching life,” she says.

Highly visible, or easily hidden, “burn trauma is burn trauma,” adds the Victoria woman who can’t really hide her scars. “What goes on underneath it all is still there.”

Manser will lead others, offering her insights as Island representative in the expanded Adult Burn Survivor Future is Mine program through the The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund program.

“I started feeling like ‘my kids are raised, there’s something missing’,” Manser said. “I’m grown up now and I’ve stepped into my boots. I do have something to offer.”

Ann Coombs developed the program for three years before launching it seven years ago on the Lower Mainland. Saturday marks the start of the Island program with an official launch at the Oak Bay fire hall.

“We’re coming to the Oak Bay fire hall because of the positive support we have from the firefighters and from the community,” said Coombs, who serves as program director. “It is another way of integrating the burn community into the community.”

In the intervening years Coombs has worked to develop the Island program. It’s come to fruition now in part because of sponsorship from local groups and businesses to provide group activities such as going to the Victoria Symphony and Victoria Art Gallery.

“Activities which bring the burn group together are positive, empowering and brings them out into the public,” Coombs said. “The power of the Future is Mine program is all about giving them power.”

Hosting the launch was an easy fit for Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation, says representative Greg Swan. The local firefighter is among those who have attended B.C. Burn Camp, a youth survivor experience. B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund is a fundraising body for firefighters throughout the province.

“It’s been a long time coming. We jumped at the chance to host the event,” Swan said.

“It’s valuable … For our department it’s a great opportunity to showcase who we are to the burn survivors, as well as for members of Oak Bay to meet burn survivors first-hand. It’s an impacting experience.”

Through the program, members of the adult burn community will connect to share survival stories and resources as well as experience activities that inspire and educate. Guest speakers at the meeting will include: Gwen Linski-Dulmage of Nanaimo, a survivor who lost two children in a house fire; Brandon Hayter of Victoria who was burned in a campfire explosion; and Jane Calder of Victoria who was burned as a child and is now a new mother.

“When we’re at our lows, we don’t realize that the only thing that stops us, is us,” Manser said, excited to foster spirit and determination in the group. “I’m loving it. It’s really exciting to bring this community together.”

Monthly coffee meetings for the group start Monday.

For more information on The Future Is Mine Adult Burn Survivors program or the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, visit burnfund.org.

Learn more about Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable at oakbayfirefighters.com.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction in Oak Bay is nearly all focused on rebuilding new single-family homes and without secondary suites. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay nears regulation of secondary suites

Preliminary report hints there’s no preferred option

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bastion Square attack leaves victim with life-altering injuries

Victoria police looking for witnesses, information

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke woman almost falls for lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

Sequoia Coastal Coffee, the first coffee shop in Colwood’s Royal Bay neighbourhood, is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood coffee shop shuts down after employee tests positive for COVID-19

Sequoia Coastal Coffee closed since Saturday, Jan. 16

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

(Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP say ice climber seriously injured after reportedly falling 12 metres near Abraham Lake

Police say man’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Most Read