Big Tancook is a small island with about 120 residents. It is located south coast of Nova Scotia. In times of emergencies, these areas cannot be reached by paramedics.
A seasoned team of volunteers is only available in the area to provide first aid or CPR to victims. This team includes three family members and they can provide help in times of emergency. They are only using a 30-year-old decommissioned ambulance. The ambulance was bought using the money raised through bottle drive.
In the mainland which is an hour ferry ride away from the island, the Big Tancook Island Emergency Response Association has six medical first responders who have saved lives and provided first aid and CPR to friends and relatives on the island but it was a stressful job.
According to the chair and medical first responder of the association, Peter Stephens said it is dealing with seeing your friends getting hurt or their children but at the same time it is something that makes a person feels good by helping other people.
The association is also trained to provide advanced first aid to residents. It is an example of how the people on the island depend on themselves in order to survive. It is the place they have chosen to live but services to their island were cut off as they have expected.
Medical first responders on the island have less training than the paramedics. They can only provide small services that include using a defibrillator, treating cuts and administering medications. Furthermore, Stephens said that when a person on the island calls an emergency number, the call taker will contact a volunteer dispatcher on the island. Then he notifies the medical first responder using a cell phone. One will pick up the ambulance and other people will help the victim.
If the victim needs to be taken to the hospital, they first keep the patient stable and the team travels with the patient on an hour-long ride in the ferry to Chester, Nova Scotia. Then they handed off the patient to paramedics.
The local fire department can also provide first aid and CPR to victims during emergencies since most of them have proper first aid training. The association gets about 14 emergency medical calls a year and mostly not a serious condition.
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Learn how to help by enrolling in a first aid and CPR course and for more information, check out these sources: