In its first year of service, Powell River Community First Aid Team Society has provided vitally necessary volunteer first aid response to events throughout the region.
“We did 42 events last year,” said society member Larry Gemmill. “We’re hoping to improve on that record this year.”
The team was originally formed in the wake of St. John Ambulance’s closure of its branch and brigade after 107 years in town. A core group of former brigade members, with the help of Select Safety Services president Gary Amundsen, worked to get the volunteers back in rotation quickly.
“There are organizations that have to have first aid coverage,” said society member Heather Farrell-Sketchley. “A lot of small events can’t afford to pay for it. They don’t have big bucks.”
Amundsen lent the volunteers his ambulances and equipment and helped them become a not-for-profit society, added Sketchley. “Gary has been an absolute goldmine. He knows all the ins and outs of the legalities and forms to fill,” she said. When the society received funding, including a Powell River Community Forest grant, Amundsen helped the group find equipment, including a good used ambulance from Alberta.
“City Transfer transported it up by barge for us, which was amazing,” added Gemmill.
Now the group is working at outfitting the vehicle and is again seeing generous support from its neighbours.
“We’re putting stickers on the ambulance, company logos of everybody that donates and we’re going to run out of room really quickly on that,” said Amundsen.
Looking back on its first year, Gemmill said he is gratified at how much the society has been able to accomplish.
“Starting from nothing, from scratch, it was a real challenge,” he said. “But it’s sure come together nicely.”
Along with its core membership from the former brigade, the group is happy to welcome a host of new volunteers.
“It’s so interesting to see. The existence of this whole thing started within the deep roots of the community,” said Amundsen. “And it’s the community now that’s carrying it.”
For events needing coverage or for more information, contact Gemmill at 604.483.9854.