Members of the Port Alice Health Forum and Fire Department with packages containing the chest compression machine. (Debra Lynn photo)

Members of the Port Alice Health Forum and Fire Department with packages containing the chest compression machine. (Debra Lynn photo)

Port Alice Volunteer Fire Department receives chest compression machine

The life-saving device, valued at nearly $20,000, was a gift mainly from anonymous donors

WRITTEN BY DEBRA LYNN

The Port Alice Volunteer Fire Department received a Lucas 3, 3.1 chest compression machine from the Port Alice Health Forum in a small informal ceremony at the fire hall at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15.

The life-saving device, valued at nearly $20,000, was a gift mainly from anonymous donors. The machine is a mechanical replacement for CPR: it does chest compressions for patients with cardiac issues.

Handing over a label to place on the machine to indicate ownership by the fire department, co-chair of the Port Alice Health Forum, Catherine Beatty, proclaimed a simple but enthusiastic “it’s yours!” and Valerie Eyford added, “We hope this makes your job easier.”

Fire Chief Gerry Rose affirmed, “Oh, it’ll make it a lot easier.”

He said it will be especially beneficial when the fire department is shorthanded with only two or three people. When the machine is functioning, it frees up more people to perform other critical tasks, such as getting oxygen from the ambulance.

Maria Fraser, a paramedic who is also a fire-fighter, illustrated a scenario where the machine would be critical.

“I’m working on ambulance. I’m not in the community at the time or I’m tied up. The fire department gets a call. They go out. They can put this on. They can start CPR and everything. Once we arrive, then we reassess…it is that little extra that makes a difference. This is CPR. It’s taking over one of the members doing CPR continuous…multiple members doing continuous CPR.”

Sean Watson added that “a person can only do effective CPR for a short time because they get very tired, so this machine can do more [than] what many members can do.”

Firefighter Gaston Trofer says, “The odds of surviving will go up highly because it’s more consistent and more effective.”

Fraser described the machine’s life-saving function by stating that “…the most important thing is to start doing compressions and keep doing the compressions because what it’s doing is circulating the blood which is circulating the oxygen.”

The British Columbia Emergency Health Services, formerly known as British Columbia Ambulance Service, now has Port Alice staff working outside of Port Alice when there is a need. This leaves the town without an ambulance for many hours in the day. The fire department then steps up to deal with urgent calls until the ambulance can arrive on the scene.

The chest compression machine was suggested by a member of the fire department and the anonymous donors after hearing that the Hospital Auxillary in Meritt had been raising money to purchase one for their fire department.

The Port Alice Health Forum receives $900 annually from the Provincial Employees Community Services Fund. The forum also receives funding from the Port Alice Thrift Shop. The total amount of the donation from private donors for the chest compression machine was $18,000.


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