First Nation community members learn first aid to protect family and community

Dec 13, 2023

Reo delivering first aid training in Tla'amin First Nation

Photo submitted by Reo Jerome.

This fall, we were honoured to be invited by eight First Nation communities along the southern coast of British Columbia to provide essential lifesaving skills to their members. In a collaborative effort to enhance community safety, the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society (FNESS) Fire Services Team embarked on a journey to Musqueam, Sts’ailes, Ditidaht, Tseshaht, Malahat, Esquimalt, K’ómoks, and Tla’amin. The team delivered the FNESS Community First Aid Program and upon completion, gifted an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine and a first aid kit to each community to help create safer places for everyone.

Transformative learning experience

The response during the training sessions has been nothing short of inspiring. Community members eagerly participated, turning each training session into a vibrant hub of learning. From staff, to student, to Elder the courses drew in a diverse crowd, showcasing the collective commitment to fostering a safer, more informed community.

Witnessing the transformation of each student from beginning to end is amazing. The initial concern of community members gradually gives way to confidence as they grasp the lifesaving skills that could make all the difference in critical moments. The noticeable sense of unity and shared purpose in these sessions reflects a community-first approach to safety and well-being.

Tim Mills teaching First Aid to Tseshaht community members.

Tim Mills teaching First Aid to Tseshaht community members. Photo submitted by Reo Jerome.

Rewarding teaching experience

Leading this important training was Tim Mills and Reo Jerome, integral members of the FNESS Fire Services team. Alongside their teammate, Kathy Ferguson, they tirelessly guide these classes, imparting not just skills but a sense of empowerment.

When asked about their experiences, both Tim and Reo shared a common sentiment — the privilege of being welcomed into these communities. It’s more than just teaching; it’s about building connections, forging friendships, and making a tangible impact on the lives of community members. During the Tla’amin training, Reo and Tim experienced a heartwarming reunion with Councillor Erik Blaney, a fellow ally in the field during the 2021wildfire season, adding an extra layer of significance to these training days.

Gratitude to communities

As FNESS continues its journey, we carry not just knowledge but a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for each community welcoming us with open arms, for the chance to make a difference, and for the opportunity to empower individuals with the skills that can save lives within their own circles.

We also thank each community member for their dedication and willingness to participate in these training sessions. Thank you for supporting your community by learning skills to make it safer.

Reo Jerome,  Linzy Elliott, Byron Harry,  Walter Paul, Erik Blaney, Tim Mills

Reo Jerome, FNSS Fire and Emergency Services Instructor; Linzy Elliott, Deputy Fire Chief and FNESS Board Member; Byron Harry, Tla’amin Fire Chief; Walter Paul, FNESS Board Member; Erik Blaney, Tla’amin Councillor; Tim Mills, FNESS Fire and Emergency Services Instructor. Photo submitted by Reo Jerome.

Gratitude from communities

Maarten van Wamel, Development  & Training Coordinator, Malahat Nation:
“On behalf of the Malahat Nation, I would like to thank the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society, and especially Reo Jerome and Tim Mills, for the excellent Community First Aid Training that was delivered at the Nation… Tim and Reo’s respectful yet practical approach was well received by the participants, who felt invited and supported in their training. Tim and Reo’s engaging style with lots of examples and stories, showed a deep knowledge and extensive experience with emergency responses, combined with a deep understanding of supporting Indigenous learners in their learning journeys. Their creativity, flexibility, and willingness to come back to train even more community members and the Malahat Guardians…was even more proof of FNESS’ commitment to support the overall safety and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.”

Tla’amin Fire Department:
“Big thank you to to Reo, Tim, Kathy, and FNESS for the continuous support of our fire department, community, and community members. Thanks to the FNESS Community First Aid Program, we now have eight more community members trained in life saving first aid knowledge and skills… We also want to acknowledge and thank those community members who participated, this program would not have been possible without you. Thank you to all those who take the time, dedication, and work to make the community a safer place for everyone.”

Bring lifesaving skills to your community

Tim and Reo invite you to contact them directly if you’re interested in bringing the Community First Aid Program to your community and happy to answer your questions.

Tim Mills, Emergency Services Instructor | 604-790-6215

Reo Jerome, Emergency Services Instructor | 778-241-7496