A few weeks ago I had the privilege to be part of the funeral precession for Constable Garrett Styles. When I started writing this article, I struggled with a way to word that first sentence that would adequately capture what the experience meant for me…and “privileged” seemed like the closest description, but even it falls short. For those who don’t know, Constable Styles was a York Region Police officer killed in the line of duty last month.
On July 5th, more than 6000 police, firefighters and paramedics lined the streets, marched and attended the funeral service to show their support for the Styles family, friends and the York Region Police force. Surrounded by a sea of uniforms from across the country (and even some from the US), I was overwhelmed by the sense of honour, duty and support that exists amongst the emergency services.
I did not know Constable Styles personally, but even as a new member of the profession, I felt connected to him, and to the loss felt by his family, friends and coworkers. Everyone in the emergency services does their job knowing there is an element of risk to what we do. The infinite number of unknowns when facing a new situation dictate that sometimes, no matter how careful you are, there will always be unavoidable dangers on the job. We minimize those risks as best we can, but ultimately accept that to protect and help those in need, it may cost us our health or our lives.
There’s an incredible sense of camaraderie that arises from that decision, a sense that we’re all connected, and that in a heartbeat, we would do anything to protect and support each other. Standing there with my hand over my heart, I realized what has come to be the most important lesson from this experience; we’re all part of something bigger then ourselves.
Image Courtesy of York Region Police