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Lester Wong

Perseverance, Consistence & Encouragement -It’s been three years since my burn accident had occurred, or should I say I’ve been a burn survivor for three years. Let me bring you back to how my paramedic and I remember this true story.

It was around 6:30 in the evening of December 24th, 2009. Christmas Eve. No school and the plan was to hang out with my friends and leave the next morning to celebrate Christmas together with my family. My dad, mom who recently came back from Hong Kong and my little brother who also came from a distant place, Waterloo, our plan was to meet in Victoria where we had a place up in Bear Mountain. My sister and her fiancé couldn’t come because they were busy doing prep work during the Winter Olympic of 2010 at Whistler.

I met up with my friends at a house in Burnaby, parked my car along side with my friend, Jason’s car. As I could recall during the winter 2009, the roads were icy, unstably slippery, and visibility minimal. I remember staying there for a bit but I left early because I didn’t want to be late for my next day’s ferry ride to Victoria.

My accident occurred on the 25th day of December around 1:30 in the morning. My car hit a rock wall in a T intersection right in front of the EA Games company. I don’t know how and what happened, maybe I hit black ice or I fell asleep but I’m not exactly sure because the next thing I know I was in the hospital. Luckily, there was a car behind me who reported the accident, the fire station was close by and ambulance came only 30 seconds after the fire fighters had arrived. Unfortunately, the car engine bay caught on fire and there was a fist size hole on the windshield, which is where the flames came from into the car.

The fire fighters saved me by pulled me out of the burning vehicle and the paramedics saved me by performing something called cricothyrontomy(slice open throat to insert a tube) for breathing because my face was swollen due to the burns and no oxygen could bypass my nose nor mouth. While the paramedic was operating on me he didn’t have time to sedate me prior to operate but did so on the way to the hospital.

I was placed into an induced coma for the first month in ICU at VGH; I had the longest dream of my life. News broke out to my parents Christmas morning from RCMP saying that I was in critical condition, so they got picked up from a RCMP helicopter to VGH. My family contacted some friends because we previously planned to hang out in Victoria during Boxing Day. Heartbroken my family and friends visited me at the hospital. I was 33% burned, apparently wrapped up like a mummy from head to toes. When I was finally awoke a month later in BPTU, I was confused and disoriented. I even thought that I was in Victoria for the longest time. At first I wasn’t able to move, eat or speak; I wasn’t able to move because I was so skinny and weak (I looked like I had zero muscle mass); wasn’t able to speak and eat because I’ve got a trake in my throat and my mouth was so contracted that it was difficult for me to swallow pills. I remembered my body, arms and legs were so skinny, and I’ve lost almost 50lbs or more. I fought through the long complicated journey. Had countless surgeries all over my body, face mouth, and never the less just the eyelids alone I’ve had more than ten surgeries.

I stayed around four months in VGH, and then headed on to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre for two months. Once discharged from GF Strong I planned to make small goals like renewing my belongings, ID cards, and driver license. That’s the start of little steps to accomplishing big goals. I of course have bigger long term goals like getting back to school and finishing the course and going back to work in the military as a reservist. There were some slight setbacks due to ongoing surgeries during 2010. However I had decided to finish my Aircraft Mechanic courses first without further delay since the doctors’ respond was that the surgeries aren’t necessarily urgent. During my school in 2011 I was very fortunate to be awarded the Oswald Howell Memorial Bursary sponsored by the BCPFF Burn Fund. I have persevered and completed my Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Program by the end of 2011.

I’m very excited and happy to say that during 2012, I have gotten back on duty with the Military from the Canadian Forces. I was also tasked away to Edmonton during the summer to work as staff members and to train troops. Finally at the end of the year I was awarded “Queens Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee,” for completing my school and continuing work at the military despite any obstacles.

I have accomplished a lot these past few years, my future goals and objectives are to complete my Commercial Pilot License training, volunteer and help out with this year’s burn camp community, lastly get my component transfer active with the military, from infantry to air forces, so I could use the skills I’ve learned and put in to practical work.

It’s easier said than done, unfortunately due to my burns circumstance, there were ongoing surgeries; therefore, every time I had an operation, I had to recover, stay positively discipline and get my body back to shape.