Dave Allison

Dave Allison

STARS brings training to Ponoka first responders

First responders in Ponoka had a chance to get some hands on training with the help of STARS air medical crews.

First responders had a chance to get some hands on training with the help of STARS air medical crews.

Hosted at the Ponoka County East District Fire Hall Feb. 28, the free event had STARS crews bring the mobile education unit to work with members of the east district fire department, Ponoka RCMP, the Integrated Traffic Unit, EMS and the Bashaw Fire Department.

Along with the mobile unit is what crews call iStan, a high-tech mannequin that mirrors human responses to a variety of procedures. The mannequin is used to help trainees, in a safe learning environment, deal with challenges they may find in the field. It speaks and breathes, has a heartbeat and pulse and reacts to different procedures.

Crews then simulated different events on the mannequin and attendees had to work together, using real instruments to revive the subject. Each scenario was different and once concluded, crews debriefed on each challenge presented.

The free event aims to provide training to first responders, especially those in rural areas, on current rescue techniques and safe landings.

“We’re coming out to do landing zone education for that,” explained Emerson North, flight paramedic and educator with STARS.

The mannequin is, “…basically a high acuity patient,” giving first responders familiarity with some of the troubleshooting needed to ensure a person gets out of a situation alive.

Training also focused on clearing airways with North and two other STARS trainers demonstrating current techniques and tools used in emergency cases.

“I’m showing them some of the foundational stuff that we do even in the helicopter,” said North. “Just some really basic things you can do that are really impactful in taking care of somebody that can’t breath.”

With the different agencies working together to save a person’s life, communication between them is paramount. North says STARS was created as another way to ensure lives are saved. “It’s a community owned resource.”

“We’re another link in the chain for emergency services so it’s essential that we have a good relationship and that we understand how each other works,” explained North.

He calls it a chain of survival with the different emergency agencies working as partners.

The goal is to train in a community every two years with landing zone safety tips being one aspect of that training.