“It was years of trauma, suicides, car accidents, infants dying,” MacDonald, 43, said an interview Thursday. “The heartache of family members, seeing their tears. Hearing them crying, hearing them begging for help and at the end of day (what you did) didn’t work.”

In 2010, an incident involving a child precipitated a psychological crisis that was a turning point in his life. The medical term is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but for MacDonald, it was a nightmare of exhaustion, flashbacks and hallucinations.

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When first responders need aid


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