By Vince Clark
Founded in 1994, the Sagkeeng fire Dept has seen a significant work increase in recent years. With an aging and ever-increasing population, the community has seen the need to have a trained medical first responder team become apparent. First responders all over Manitoba receive the initial call for help, respond, and apply first aid until they can hand over to the local EMS agency.
With approval from chief and council, a Red Cross speciality medical training instructor was contacted to deliver the training. Gerry Desjardins, who has over 40 years of experience, both as an EMS technician, and as an EMS teacher, ran an intense week of first responder training from June 11-15, 2018.
The training featured lots of realistic, hands-on, scenario-based training. The participants were subjected scenarios such as mock car crashes, cardiac arrests calls, and rescuing victims and a fire fighter from a smoke-filled building. They also practiced treating medical emergencies such as diabetic issues (low blood sugar), uncontrolled severe bleeding, impaled objects, bone fractures and splinting, backboarding and cervical collar protocols, asthma attacks, delivering emergency oxygen, doing CPR and using a Defibrillator, treating anaphylaxis shock and epi pen usage, as well as epileptic seizures, to name a few.
On Friday, June 15th, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the mock scenarios. A mock car accident was created at the Sagkeeng Health Centre. Volunteer “victims”, Lynden Jonski and Shanika Fontaine donned fake wounds and climbed inside the mock accident vehicles. Firefighters Bryan Twohearts, Lincoln Bruyere, Trey Guimond, Rick Oreschuk and Harold Everett Jr acted as the first responders and provided emergency care to the mock victims. Ms. Fontaine had a cut on her head, and was treated and released fairly quickly, while Mr. Jonski had a “broken leg”, and went into “cardiac arrest” once removed from the vehicle. The first responders performed CPR, administered oxygen, and used a defibrillator. He was then handed off to the mock EMS team, consisting of Firefighters Carter Bruyere, Steven Swampy, Brian Bruyere, and Kelly Fontaine. All of this was overseen by Mr. Desjardins, as well as Acting fire chief Kirk Guimond and Safety Officer Sheldon Fontaine.
Gerry says he has great confidence in these firefighters being able to use their newly taught skills. They have agreed to do weekly training practices to keep their skills fresh and want to set up fund raising efforts to purchase much needed medical equipment to be used for emergency call outs.