April 2, 2019 8:31 pm

Firefighters at Wilson’s Landing now first medical responders as well

Calls for medical requests are expected to improve along the North Westside area, with news that some Wilson’s Landing firefighters have been trained as first medical responders.

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Firefighters in a rural section of the Central Okanagan will also act as first medical responders.

This week, the Wilson’s Landing Fire Dept. announced that approximately half of its 22-person crew has been trained as first medical responders. Located on the west shore of Okanagan Lake, the fire department covers a stretch of Westside Road from Trader’s Cove to Shelter Cove.

“Fantastic,” Wilson’s Landings resident Dale Ziech said of the news. “Way out here, we’re going to have medical first responders. Awesome!

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“We don’t have to wait for the ambulance to show up, which may or may not find our location, whereas the local fire department would know the neighbourhood.”

Fire chief Don Bennison called it “a momentous day” for the fire department.

“Over the years, we’ve done everything that we could out here: (fighting) fires, protecting lives, fire prevention and so on,” he said.

“We’ve trained our crew; a little more than half of our firefighters are now first responders completely. We’re looking forward to the challenges and facing them head-on.”

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Bennison said crew members can now address injuries or assist those who are in distress or need help.

“We arrive on first scene and prepare that patient for what he or she may (need),” said Bennison, adding that automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment will be carried for possible heart attacks. “Then we wait for the B.C. Ambulance Service. We work under their auspices.”

Wilson’s Landing Fire Dept. captain Robert Baker said crews will “work to stabilize a scene, do first aid, make sure that people are safe, and then transfer them to a higher level of care, which is B.C. Ambulance, then hospital.”

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Bennison said crew training took, on average, about a year and a half, ranging from first aid to AED operation to triage.

“We face whatever we encounter,” he said. “Whatever is there, we deal with.”

Bennison said the new service means “a fair amount to places like Lake Okanagan Resort.”

“They have a population in there just under 1,000 during the high season in the summer. Invariably, they have calls.”

Bennison expects calls for help “will be significantly improved.”

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