In 2010, when Minneapolis firefighter Jake LaFerriere was in the hospital being treated for third and fourth degree burns resulting from an explosion while battling a fire, he met children who were undergoing the same painful treatments for their injuries. LaFerriere wanted to help them, and thus was born Firefighters for Healing.
“[We] provide financial and emotional support to burn survivors and their families,” says LaFerriere. “Firefighters have volunteered at fundraisers, wrapped gifts for patients … brought rigs to children’s events ... and are our biggest champions...,” he says.
When tragedy strikes, families jump in the car, ambulance or helicopter with no time to think about what to bring, where they will stay or how long they will be there. “Unfortunately, in many cases they soon find out they will be here for weeks, if not months, and that they will need to return ... for ongoing treatment and care,” says LaFerriere.
Firefighters for Healing is usually introduced to burn survivors and their families by the burn unit staff in the first days or weeks after their burn trauma. They bring toys to distract patients during dressing changes, provides meals for families, temporary housing for out-of-towners or camp scholarships, demonstrating they understand what each family needs to survive the trauma.
To get involved or learn more, go to firefightersforhealing.org.