Saving the youngest of lives

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Rankin Inlet

Bylaw officer and firefighter Capt. Kyle Lowe and medic Grachel D’Cuhna, right, represent the Rankin Inlet Fire Rescue EMS at the annual health fair at the community hall in Rankin on May 7, 2019. Photo courtesy Mark Wyatt.
Bylaw officer and firefighter Capt. Kyle Lowe and medic Grachel D’Cuhna, right, represent the Rankin Inlet Fire Rescue EMS at the annual health fair at the community hall in Rankin on May 7, 2019.
Photo courtesy Mark Wyatt.

Knowing what to do during the few short moments of a medical emergency can often be the difference between life and death, especially when an infant is involved, said Rankin Inlet Fire Chief Mark Wyatt, who will be conducting an infant CPR course in Rankin during the upcoming month.

This will mark the third time during the past two years the fire department has held the infant CPR course, which is aimed primarily at new parents and those who care for children on a regular basis such as a babysitter.

Wyatt said far too often new parents don’t know what action to take when there’s a health problem with their child.

He said during the past two years, he’s responded three times to a hysterical call for help from a parent whose child is having extreme difficulty breathing.

“I often arrive at the scene to find the baby either tightly swaddled or laying on the floor and no one is doing anything,” said Wyatt.

“Parents often don’t how know how to properly take care of their child when he or she falls ill, especially in a crisis situation.

“So the purpose of the course is to educate new parents and people with infants and young children on what to do in the event of an emergency.”

Wyatt said in the south, people who are about to have kids often attend prenatal classes, especially when it’s their first child, to figure out what to expect when having a baby.

But, even then, he said, he’s not sure how deeply such classes get into how to properly care fot the child after it’s born, or if they do at all.

“Honestly, every single person in this community should sit through a two-day first aid/CPR course.

“It’s not just kids who die. Adults can go into cardiac arrest at anytime and people just don’t know what to do.

“However, we’re simply not equipped to be able to teach everyone in the community first aid, which is unfortunate because you want to be able to react immediately when someone is in distress, especially when it’s a child.

“I’ve seen just about everything you can possibly imagine in the time that I’ve been doing this. When it’s a baby you’re trying to save – and they’re all about two or three months old – and you just can’t bring that baby back, it’s tough. It’s really hard to take.”

Wyatt said the previous two infant CPR courses were filled to capacity with a maximum of 14 participants.

He said a number of people signed-up for the course at the Rankin Inlet Fire Rescue EMS booth during the annual health fair at the community hall in Rankin on May 7 and 8, but he hasn’t had time to go through the names just yet.

“I understand a number of kids signed-up and, if they’re old enough to babysit, we’ll take all of them for the course, as well, because it’s really important for them to know how to perform CPR.

“In my opinion, it should really be something that’s offered in the middle school (Simon Alaittuq School).

“ I know they do it in the high school (Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik), but middle school is a good opportunity for them to learn, as well.”

Wyatt said his department sends representatives to the health fair every year.

He said they take full advantage of the funding they receive for everything from being on-hand for activities such as the health fair and the Kivalliq Trade Show, to first responder training and first aid training.

“The health fair is a good opportunity for us to be involved and highlight some of the stuff we do in the community in terms of helping to keep people safe.

“I mean, we’re not feeding anyone healthy food but we’re the first ones there when they get sick.

“I’m looking forward to delivering the infant CPR course, along with some of my medics, this coming month.

“It will all be organized and run in-house.”

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