P.A. dispatchers receive national award

(L to R) Betty Lussier, Danielle Henry, Lyndsie St. Onge and Natasha Cameron at the APCO Canada 2018 Conference & Tradeshow in Montreal. (Lyle Karasiuk/Submitted)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

“Communication is the biggest thing dealing with an incident like this and you just keep working at it until everything gets done and the last ambulance gets home.” – Jessie Jabusch

Parkland Ambulance’s telecommunications team received an Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) award last month for their work during the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy.

“Friday, April 6th, 2018, was a sunny early spring day in northeastern Saskatchewan,” read the awards program.

That afternoon, the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was travelling north on Highway 35 on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin.

Their tour bus collided with a semi-truck travelling west, leaving 16 deceased, 13 injured, the public frantic in questions and emergency medical dispatchers (EMD) zoned into their work.

Six members from Parkland Ambulance Dispatch who were working through the incident received the Team Award.

APCO Canada’s website says it “recognizes an emergency communication team that handled an unforeseen or unusually challenging situation causing each nominee to handle additional responsibilities in addition to their regularly assigned duties.”

One member of the team was Jessie Jabusch, who was unable to attend the ceremony on Nov. 7 in Montreal.

“We actually were in touch with other dispatch centres for fire and police and then we coordinated all the ambulances that went to the crash and then went to further hospitals after,” she explained.

“Communication is the biggest thing dealing with an incident like this and you just keep working at it until everything gets done and the last ambulance gets home.”

Receiving the APCO award made her feel recognized.

“I think the more people that get educated on what we do here, I think that that will come with time,” said Jabusch in comparison to the public’s recognition of first responders like paramedics or firefighters.

Parkland’s Director of Public Affairs Lyle Karasiuk said two other communications teams were nominated: the Provincial Emergency Communications Centre and the RCMP F Division Communications Centre.

All three teams got the award for their work during the bus crash.

“We never plan for a major disaster…even though we take training for it, we say ‘This is possible,’” he said.

Karasiuk added their work during the incident was in addition to responding to incidents within Prince Albert.

“It’s something they do on a smaller scale each and every day,” he said.

The five other honoured dispatchers are Betty Lussier, Danielle Henry, Lyndsie St. Onge, Natasha Cameron and Jill Stefanick.

Stefanick was also unable to attend.

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