January 31, 2009 First Responders from Avonlea, Briercrest and Rouleau were called to the scene of a school bus crash, with 25 persons on board. They provided emergency care to 25 young people plus the driver while a hundred others watched. This accident was a "mock" scene, set up in Moose Jaw at the Golden Mile Arena to train 185 first responders who were already assembled for the weekend at the 9th Annual South Saskatchewan First Responder Recertification Conference.
The crash was a valuable learning experience for both the First Responders that actually took part in the "mock" treatment and those that watched as Health District Personel carried on commentary of what was actually happening. From the stands at the arena, a hundred or so observers watched as 30 first responders "arrived" on scene, a few at a time and were coached by 6 paramedics to quickly assess and tag each of the 25 injured persons on the bus. The incident was staged to help attendees to be organized and get massed casualties like this assessed in less than 90 seconds each. After the initial assessment, more first responders "arrive" at the crash scene and the patients that were already quickly assessed and tagged could then be moved to designated areas, based on the severity of their injuries. The young volunteers were then removed from the crash scene as their injuries allowed. Some wore green tags and could walk from the bus, while others, wearing red tags had more severe injuries and had to placed on spine boards and carried from the bus. The entire crash scene had all of the injured removed from the scene and enroute to various treatment facilites in less than one hour.
The mock bus crash was only a part of the weekend that is held in Moose Jaw each year to recertify the volunteer First Responders. All First Responders must keep their skills current to retain their license and to be able to serve you better as rural people. To instruct the 185 attendees were 25 instructors from all over the province, each bringing their specialty in training to share. The First Responders also got to listen to 6 special guest speakers. The pool area at the Moose Jaw Heritage Inn also contained 7 displayers showing First Responder groups the very latest technology in equipment and supplies. Many corporate sponsors helped to offset any cost to the volunteer First Responders for the conference.
The 2009 weekend conference was the largest ever, with 185 First Responders in attendance. Organizer Ray Francis from Moose Jaw EMS is looking forward to the 2010 event, as it will be the 10th anniversary. He promises that it will be the biggest event in its history. Ray and his committee work tirelessly on this conference every year. The event not only serves as a valuable educational forum for the volunteer force, but as a thank you for the time they invest in serving their communities.
If you are interested in becoming a First Responder in your community, please contact your local group or your local EMS.