Brandon Hayter

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I am a survivor – Stop. Drop and Roll…which are words that have been drilled into every child’s mind since day one. Three words that I never thought would have such an effect on my life at the age of twelve.

I was spending an afternoon at a friend’s house, sitting around a campfire enjoying myself when all of a sudden I heard this overwhelming loud bang, all I could see was a wall of fire and then everything went silent.

At this point the ringing in my ears began, I couldn’t see clearly but I ran anyways, once my vision came back I realized that I was on fire. After a few screams I stopped, dropped and rolled and the flames went out. All I could smell was a horrid smell of paint. That smell haunted me for years after it happened, reoccurring at random and making me feel sick. The paint smell belonged to a silver spray paint can that exploded in the fire. I never would have thought that such a small object could have such a huge impact on my life.

Without fully understanding the severity of my burns, I took a shower to cool down and clean myself up so that maybe my mom wouldn’t be too mad at me. From there my dad took me to the hospital, upon entering the double doors of the emergency ward the blatant reality of my burns became apparent. At this point the adrenalin started to wear off as real pain took its place. Morphine, gels, gauze, nurses, doctors, paint covered dead skin and four hours later I was on my way to Vancouver, my first plane ride ever. Despite being strapped down to a metal table on my stretcher bed, I still really enjoyed seeing the big city lights at 2 am.

Two weeks in the hospital, third degree burns from my fingertips to my elbow, second and third degree on both legs and my face, could all be summed up into one phrase by my mom “he’s a trooper.”

The road to recovery was a long and painful journey. After a month of home tutoring, I had to face the fact that I would never be or look the same, but I took that first step. The kids at school had never seen pressure garments, or a burn victim before, and although they were kind on the surface I felt I didn’t belong. And then one thing changed everything, it changed my hope and my self-confidence as well as my entire out look on life. That one thing was Burn Camp 2004.

This was where all my worries and personal issues vanished for it was in these surroundings I was normal. Burn Camp was so much more than an experience to me, it was the factor that made my recovery what it was and really has made me who I am. Camp was something that I could not let go of after one year, so I went for the following six years until graduation, each time returning a stronger person. In the later years it became less about healing my pain, and instead helping those others who had their own pain to heal. So many kids would hide in a shell, so traumatized and wrapped up in what happened to them that they didn’t know how to escape, but camp gave them the opportunity to shed that shell, break those barriers, and walk with their head up high, as a normal kid again.

Every person at camp played a role in helping someone else. The fire fighters and nurses did more than organize, fundraise, and comfort the victims; they changed our lives. If it was not for them, and the countless people that contribute to programs like the BCPFF Burn Fund, so many kids, just like my self, would still not only be victim to their burn scars, but their trauma scars as well. New research and technology now makes physical scars heal quicker and better, which makes the hospital stay shorter and the mental stress far less. Going through the experience of being burned, healing, the pressure garments, the gels, the medication, the sunscreen, and the emotions can make a kid grow up far too fast.

Everyone has a dream, may it be a hero, a fire fighter, or a role model but being burned builds walls of fear, a fear that nothing can change. The Burn Fund programs breaks down those walls and replaces doubts with willpower to go above and beyond those dreams.

The Burn Fund is what changes a burn victim into a burn survivor.


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