Saving lives in rural Saskatchewan

in Moose Jaw, on January 27, 2017. -- (Crystal Schick/Times-Herald)

Hundreds of volunteers from across rural Saskatchewan are meeting at the Heritage Inn this weekend for the 17th annual First Responder Conference.

Bill Cook, chairperson, South Saskatchewan First Responder Conference Committee, said this weekend is a vital time for volunteers to get together and brush up on old skills, learn new ones and get details on the latest tech.

“Some don’t have good training programs and some are non-existent depending on what health region they’re in,” Cook said, “so once a year we get as many [people] together as we can … for a fun little session of education to keep their skills up to speed and introduce them to any new ideas that are coming out there.”

The volunteer first responders are an extension of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provided in larger centres. They live and work in rural communities and are licensed with Saskatchewan Health. They have all the live saving equipment needed and most importantly, are sometimes more than 30 to 45 minutes closer to the emergency scene than the city’s EMS responders.

Janet Hundeby, is a registered nurse and has been a volunteer first responder since before the program even officially started back in the ‘80s.

Hundeby, who serves Elbow and area, said the volunteer first responders are “vital” to saving lives in rural communities. They can provide basic life-saving measures so when the ambulance does show up, they are in a “load and go” situation.

For the rest of this story, please pick up a Jan. 28 issue of the print edition, or subscribe to the e-edition here.