First responder group in jeopardy

The Ranchero-Deep Creek First Responders unit has only two active member and will close if more volunteers don't get onboard.

Ranchero First Responders Celia and Wayne Harris routinely check their equipment in preparation for an emergency call-out. The group is in urgent need of volunteers or else the service may have to shut down.

The Ranchero Deep Creek First Responders group is in danger of shutting down service next month.

Unit chief, instructor and training officer Celia Harris and her husband Wayne, who are now the only members of the unit which serves an area from Springbend Road to the top of Larch Hills, north to the industrial park and south to the end of Deep Creek Road.

“It’s a huge area, and this is obviously why we need more people,” says Harris, who notes the unit, founded in 1994, was one of the first in the province and had enough members to respond quickly. “Now, if something happens up at Larch Hills, it would take me half an hour, so I might as well not go –the ambulance would get there first.”

 

First responders are dispatched at the same time as ambulances and members are trained to assess, initiate treatment and prepare the patient for rapid expedition to hospital.

 

“We have advanced training, we do CPR, carry a defibrillator and can perform lifesaving skills…,” says Harris. “All the things that a person can get into mischief over, especially in a rural area where ambulance waits average 30 minutes.”

In her area, that includes a lot of DIY (do-it-yourself) accidents – falls from roofs and chest pain from over-working, for example. Road accidents account for about 50 per cent of the calls.

First responders are provided with free and highly respected training through the Justice Institute of B.C. but do no heavy work.

 

“Safety comes first, so if a situation is beyond your capabilities, you’re not expected to perform – and there’s no pressure,” she says.

Harris suggests the volunteer position is well-suited to people who are retired or semi-retired, empty nesters and particularly to couples, so they don’t have to go on a call alone.

 

Harris would like to see first responders located throughout the Ranchero-Deep Creek area so they can actually be first on the scene.

 

Not only is Harris bemoaning a lack of volunteers, she is extremely frustrated about funding cuts imposed by the provincial government.

 

 

“Now units have to pay for manuals, training and examinations, which we did not have to do before,” she says, noting the cuts occurred in 2011. “It means not only is our focus on providing a service, but now have to look for funding as well.”

 

While she says the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is generous in funding, unit expenses have climbed dramatically.

 

“Expenses have now escalated in the fact we have to have two different types of insurance,” she says, noting that totals $4,000.

“And I am embedded in paperwork, which is putting me off.”

 

 

Anyone who would like to consider taking part in this valuable community service is asked to commit to training on the second and fourth Monday of the month – from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ranchero Fire Hall.

Training can start anytime someone wants to do it. Call Celia Harris at 250-832-3057 for information or to sign on.

 

 

“If we don’t get people by Christmas, we really will have to fold,” she says. “Even if they cannot actively support, I am looking for a volunteer to help with paperwork.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Salmon Arm city staff say rain predicted could flood tunnel, causing beach closure

Sandbagging continues for flood-prone areas around Shuswap, Mara lakes

Shuswap Emergency Program closely monitoring water levels

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Shuswap caregiver a hero in husband’s eyes

Night and day shifts leave little time for Tracy and Rick Duncan

City of Enderby issues flood caution reminder

Rain in Sunday weather forecast could increase water levels and flow

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Dyer: I left my heart in the desert

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Most Read