Cadets maintain cool in heat of competition

Nanaimo's St. John Ambulance cadets kept their cool during competition to bring home a coveted win in early June.

Mariah Vanderzee

Mariah Vanderzee

Nanaimo’s St. John Ambulance cadets kept their cool during competition to bring home a coveted win in early June.

The cadets pitted their skills against their peers from across the province in First Aid Skills competition scenarios held in Campbell River June 4. The competition is the biggest annual event of its kind in B.C.

Mariah Vanderzee, Nanaimo team captain, 16, Bradley West, 17, Karen Bellaart, 18, and Hailey Stubbington, 11, guided by their coach William Gilbert, 20, took took part in three accident scenarios against 21 other St. John Ambulance members of all skill levels from across B.C.

Actors stood in as victims with various injuries in three serious and one fun scenario.

Competing teams have 15 minutes – the time estimated for emergency services to arrive on scene – to complete each scenario.

The first simulation involved a baseball game that went wrong when the batter smacked a line drive into the pitcher. The ball ricocheted into another player, scoring two injuries. The batter then threw the bat, injuring a third player and a witness freaks out and has an asthma attack.

“It’s pretty elaborate,” said Ashley Marie Gilbert, divisional St. John Ambulance cadets superintendent. “We don’t come up with the scenarios. Somebody else does.”

The second ‘accident scene’ happened in a school hallway when two boys ran down the hall, which was having its floors waxed by a custodian.

“They slipped on the wax,” Vanderzee said. “One broke his arm and he had a bone sticking out. The other one hit his head and was unconscious. The janitor who was waxing the floors started freaking out and went into cardiac arrest.”

The team was beaten in the first two scenarios, but shone in the third simulation – an accident involving a van that crashed into a power pole, bringing down live power lines, before being hit hit by the car following it. The crash racked up seven victims, so it had to be attended to by two cadet teams.

Teams had to treat victims while avoiding live wires – symbolized by sparklers – and find a missing victim one of the injured parties kept asking about.

“We opened the trunk of the van and out falls this person,” Vanderzee said.

Because of the number of victims and severity of their injuries, it was a two-team scenario in which the Nanaimo team had to work with a another team from the mainland they had never met.

Both teams were relatively young and organizers wanted to see how effectively they could communicate with each other.

“It involved a lot of communicating between me and that other captain,” Vanderzee said.

The Nanaimo team normally works well together without a lot of verbal communication between members, she said, but this year they had a new team member who was just 11 years old.

“So we had to talk to make sure everything was going good with the other person, that they didn’t need any help or anything like that, so I think that contributed a lot,” Vanderzee said. “If you don’t communicate certain things might not be done.”

Communication proved to be the key ingredient needed for a first-place finish.

It was a big win, especially considering this was Vanderzee’s first year as team captain and the team had a young new member with no competition experience.

“For me going to Campbell River to a major competition in my first year as a captain with a fist place win – when we hadn’t come back from Campbell River with anything but door prizes for a really long time – that’s pretty significant to me,” Vanderzee said. “It was pretty significant to everybody.”

Costs for travel and accommodation to the competition are covered by donations from the St. John Ambulance executive committee and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256.