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Learning to help in an emergency
Naujaat takes advantage of having local first-aid instructor

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Having a first-aid instructor available is proving to be a huge boost to the community, said senior administrative officer Rob Hedley this past week in Naujaat.

NNSL photo/graphic

Michael Oolateeta and Edmond Bruce are all business during a first aid training program in Naujaat this past month. - photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis

Hedley said having Lloyd Francis available to instruct first aid will save the hamlet money and have the accreditation of a number of its staff members renewed before the coming summer.

"The hamlet needs to be able to offer these first-aid courses, so we were going to spend the money on this training anyway," said Hedley.

"Now we have someone in the community willing to do it, so, basically, the hamlet invests in the equipment and he delivers the training.

"That's going to help us out in a big, big way."

Francis has already certified the community's volunteer firefighters in first aid, as well as two of the hamlet's recreation employees.

Another course is expected to be held this coming Saturday, March 4, focusing on hamlet employees.

Hedley said those two courses alone will certify, or recertify, a good number of his hamlet staff members.

He said in addition to the firefighters, they're focusing the initial first-aid training sessions on anyone who runs special events, including supervisors who oversee events in the community hall for youth.

"We're also, hopefully, going to look at partnering up to have some members of the housing staff certified in first aid, as well as the health centre, the RCMP and a few other agencies.

"It's important for everyone to have first-aid training, but it's especially important for us because we're a small community and, just like other smaller communities, we don't have an ambulance staff or first responders, in general, for that matter.

"So, it's a good idea for us to make sure that our staff members, especially in our public facilities, have received the training and have access to better equipment.

"We're in the process of putting AEDs in the arena, community hall and hamlet office with the full support of the hamlet council, which has been behind the idea since the first day I brought it to the councilors."

Hedley said having its staff members trained in first aid is contained in the hamlet's collective bargaining agreement with its employees.

He said, in addition to the hamlet, having a first-aid instructor available locally will benefit a number of organizations in Naujaat.

"With Lloyd (Francis) also leading our local cadet program, we're looking forward to working with him to have the members of his cadet corps all certified, as well as our Canadian Rangers in town.

"The hamlet will lend out the community hall for free to conduct this training, and we'll also allow him to borrow the equipment he needs to hold the courses.

"Lloyd has instant credibility in living here, being a teacher and being so involved in the community, which means a lot when you're talking about someone who has attached himself to the kids in the community and is always willing to be involved in productive and important programming that benefits our town.

"We find ourselves in a situation now, with Lloyd as a certified first-aid instructor, where it's a win for him because he gets to instruct the course, a win for our fire crew because they're better trained and up to date with their certifications, and a win for everyone else in Naujaat who benefit from having our community made that much safer and better able to take care of everyone."

Francis said he always had an interest in first aid while going through the cadet program and as a cadet officer.

He said a few people he previously worked with had their first-aid qualification and, during his second year in Naujaat in 2015, he traveled to Winnipeg to recertify his training by taking the standard two-day course.

"I took that at the St. John Ambulance Centre and, while there, they told me it was a week-long course to earn your instructor's qualification.

"Then, this past year, an Iqaluit Nunavut Teacher's Association conference was canceled, which led to us having to come up with our own professional development.

"I talked to the people at the Winnipeg centre and they were able to conduct an individual course for me so I was able to get my instructor's qualifications.

"Once I got that, I talked to the previous SAO here in Naujaat about getting the necessary equipment. He thought it was a great idea and Rob (Hedley) took it from there when he became SAO here."

Francis said as far as anyone's aware, he's the sole first-aid instructor in Naujaat.

He said now that the equipment is available, he'll be able to run the training courses with more frequency to re-certify those who require re-certification for their employment, plus teach those interested in learning first aid for the first time.

"Rob informed me this past week that the hamlet would be willing to pay for any of my cadets wanting to take the program and that was just awesome news.

"Obviously, being corps commander, my fee for being an instructor would be waived for that anyway, but there's still the fee that they have to pay to St. John's Ambulance to get their certification."

Francis said he enjoys delivering the first-aid course because there's a lot of practical elements to it.

He said the course is far from just reading from a book, which some people erroneously think makes up the majority of the instruction.

"They actually have to practise what they're being taught and now, with the ACTARs (practice mannequins or dummies) being available, they can practise their CPR skills on both an infant and an adult.

"Having the ACTARs available allows them to actually see what they would have to do in a life-saving situation.

"Being given that little bit of experience the ACTARs provide is very important because in the moment when an emergency happens and you have to administer first aid, a lot of people tend to freeze.

"So, if they have that practice, they're far more likely to remember their training and do what they need to do in order to help a person when they need it."

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