Paramedics Gene Benoit, left, and Stuart Myers train outside Nanaimo’s Helijet terminal on Sunday, imagining a scenario of a hot-air balloon accident. A four-person Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. Team Canada/B.C. will compete at an international paramedic competition in the Czech Republic next month. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo paramedics part of Team Canada

Team will travel to Czech Republic next month for international competition

They’re kind of like an all-star team for paramedics, and they’ll be looking for a podium finish.

The Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. Team Canada/B.C. will be competing at the Rallye Rejviz international paramedic competition in the Czech Republic next month, with two of the four team members hailing from Nanaimo.

The team held a training session Sunday, with the day’s final exercise outside Nanaimo’s Helijet terminal. The scenario was a hot-air balloon excursion gone awry, with more patients than paramedics at the scene.

“So it was really stretching our resources on how we could do it and how we would handle a situation like this,” said Alex Mattes, primary care paramedic. “It’s a matter of triaging and making sure the right people are getting the right attention at that time and calling in proper resources so that we can get everybody tended to in the quickest possible way.”

Paramedics said when they arrive at a “mass casualty incident,” they have to avoid the temptation to simply assist the patient who is nearest or who is most vocal.

Among Sunday’s other exercises was a scenario that imagined that a police officer had been shot, so the paramedics had to factor safety and security into their response.

The team will continue to train in the coming weeks before leaving for Europe in mid May. Last year more than 25 countries competed at the Rallye Rejviz, a 24-hour marathon that sees teams drive from scenario to scenario, around 12 in all. Doctors, paramedics and other medical professionals from around the world evaluate and judge the teams’ performances.

Mattes said Team Canada/B.C. earned a silver medal two years ago at the competition.

“Which shows that some of the best pre-hospital care is here in Canada, which is fantastic…” he said. “The paramedics here are something for British Columbians to be proud of.”

The other Nanaimo team member is Stuart Myers, advanced care paramedic. Gene Benoit, a critical care paramedic from Maple Ridge, Ron Van Houten, an advanced care paramedic from Richmond and coach Clarke McGuire from Richmond are the other team members.

As for Sunday’s mock hot-air balloon mishap, things turned out just fine.

“Yep, they’re all going to make it; they all flew out,” Mattes said. “We managed that scene very well.”



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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