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New paramedic group seeks to educate public

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The Rainy River Association of Professional Paramedics is a new non-profit group who volunteer their time to fundraise, educate the public, and encourage locals who might be interested in pursuing para-medicine as a career.

RRAPP co-chair Kim Jacobson said the group is trying to educate the public about how to react to an emergency situation, when to call 9-1-1, and what to do while waiting for an ambulance.

To help boost the public's confidence and knowledge when reacting to an emergency situation, the RRAPP is looking to do choking, CPR, and defibrillator demonstrations.

“We are hoping to get out there, do some demonstrations and do some events, to help people become a little more confident because it can make a difference,” Jacobson stressed.

"It will make a difference.

“We have been discussing hands-only CPR demonstrations and combining that with A.E.D.s [Automated External Defibrillators] that are around the communities,” she added.

“There are a lot of [defibrillators] around the communities, and from what we're reading and getting feedback from is that people are still a little afraid to use them.”

Given a defibrillator recently was deployed in Fort Frances by a member of the public during an emergency, RRAPP is trying to eliminate any fears or concerns people may have regarding A.E.D.s, which may help in future emergencies.

RRAPP also is focused on promoting public education in regard to what their profession does. Jacobson said the field of para-medicine has evolved rapidly over the past decade.

“We are trying to make people more aware of what we actually do,” she explained.

“The paramedic profession has been changing a lot and I don't think people really understand what paramedics do, what we don't do, and what we can do.”

Skill sets have expanded and technology has advanced. Today's paramedics, for instance, provide a lot more care on-site and en route to the hospital than they did 10 or 20 years ago.

“It use to be a load-and-go situation and now we certainly have more tools in our toolbox to treat people on scene and then get them to care,” Jacobson noted.

“We just really wanted to promote that side of our profession and also encourage people who are a little more hesitant to call 9-1-1,” she added.

“We don't want people to be afraid of us," she stressed. "We want people to understand what we do and be ready for us when they do call us.”

Jacobson got involved in RRAPP because she is passionate about the health and well-being of her community.

“It was something I could get on board with in terms of promoting our profession locally and educating the public,” she remarked.

“It's in line with what I believe we need to be doing right now in the field of para-medicine.”

To foster local interest, RRAPP will be going around the district to educate people about what the occupation really is about.

“We are focusing on promoting our profession within the community and within the district,” Jacobson said.

“We are always hiring," she noted. "We have been hiring every year with our service for the past five years, so there is always a need.”

Trying to find young adults from the area to fill these positions can be difficult.

“It's nice to have people from the communities who want to serve in the communities,” Jacobson reasoned.

To get high school students thinking about the field of para-medicine, RRAPP is hoping to set up a table at future job fairs.

“We have talked about attending local career fairs and showing the path to becoming a paramedic,” said Jacobson.

“There is a local program through Confederation College so people can actually educate themselves locally to become paramedics.”

As well, RRAPP has been successful with participating in a few small fundraisers throughout the community, Jacobson noted.

“There was a little girl in Manitoba who spent a lot of time at the Ronald McDonald House, battling cancer, so she started a fundraising initiative to give pyjamas to the kids inside the Ronald McDonald House,” she recalled.

“We caught wind of what they were trying to do and we thought it was a great cause.”

RRAPP was able to donate 22 pairs of pyjamas.

The group also was involved with the annual “Stuff-a-Cruiser” fundraiser, which helps to support local food banks, back in December.

Looking ahead, RRAPP plans to become a fully-established, recognizable presence in the community for E.M.S. Week (May 20-26).

Jacobson looks forward to growing RRAPP and getting out into the community.

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