If you’re outside the city and call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, the first person you see might not work for Parkland Ambulance.
Instead, if you call in Candle Lake, Canwood, Shellbrook, Christopher Lake, Meath Park or Birch Hills, you’ll get a first responder coming to your aid. These first responders are volunteers, much like volunteer firefighters, and their care in advance of the arrival of an ambulance could make the difference between life or death.
“The first responders play an integral part in any of our paramedic responses,” said Lyle Karasiuk of Parkland Ambulance.
“If you look at Candle Lake, the average response time for us is going to be about 45 minutes, with good roads, good weather, everything being perfect. When you’ve got somebody who may be ill or injured or in need of some vital treatment,, like the use of an AED (automated external defibrillator) … the first responders are going to cut that time down to minutes.”
The Candle Lake First Responders got a little boost from Parkland Ambulance Friday with the delivery of a decommissioned ambulance to serve as their response vehicle.
Previously, the first responders would have used a rescue truck that only two of its members could drive, or transported equipment in their personal vehicles. Now, with the decommissioned ambulance, they can store all of their equipment in one vehicle any of their members can drive, one that also serves as a place they can shelter patients from the elements or give them somewhere comfortable to wait for the ambulance.
“We are just absolutely thrilled and excited,” said Louise Tarasiuk, Candle Lake First Responders coordinator.
“We had a rescue truck that was just beyond our means. Now all of us can drive it, and we can use it to attend our call … wherever the medical situation is at.”
Tarasiuk said the first responders go to everything from sick children and ill seniors to accidents. Members are trained and certified, and continually retrain and recertify to remain ready to go out on a call. When a 9-1-1 call comes in, if its in the Candle Lake area, the first responders will be some of the first ones dispatched.
‘We do everything where there’s an emergency,” she said. We’re so grateful to Trevor Dutchak and Parkland Ambulance for their support because we were managing, but this is just going to ease the process because everything is in one space and it’s easy for us to get at.”
The donation comes just in time for the first responders, as the summer population in Candle Lake is much higher than the rest of the year, with summer residents and tourists flocking to the area.
“I think it’s going to be a huge bonus for the community and Candle Lake over the summer as it goes from a very small community to a very large one,” Karasiuk said.
“I think it’s a huge bonus for them.”