Alison Marks

This is the 15th anniversary of the Town of Brome Lake’s First Responders. Over that time they have responded to close to 6,000 calls. Last year alone, there were 486 emergency calls, including 55 vehicle accidents, according to Alan Bowbrick, Chief of Operations for the volunteer First Responders,

There are 31 First Responders in the TBL, and they have just completed their most successful spring recruitment ever, attracting ten recruits for upcoming training.

Bowbrick says the town pays for 60 hours of initial training, as well as three separate re-certifications each year for every member of the team, covering CPR, as well as medical and trauma training.

First Responders are on duty for 12-hour shifts, and since they are volunteers, it can be tough to find people to work day shifts. First Responders commit to four shifts per month for a full year. While turnover is only 10%, it means that Bowbrick must replace two to three people per year, generally at the beginning of the year.

Each team comprises two people, a control person and a back-up and because of the depth of personnel, at least three teams could go out simultaneously.

Alan Bowbrick stressed that First Responders are governed by a strict rule of confidentiality. They don’t divulge who they visit, what the visit was about, or the outcome. They further protect privacy by not using blaring alarms. According to Bowbrick, they prefer to operate under the radar, unlike police or firemen who by the nature of their use of alarms, attract attention.

First Responders also give back to the community by being present voluntarily at many popular events such as the Tour du Lac Brome. When people are overcome by heat or dehydration, First Responders will do a “scoop and run”, making sure that event participants receive the medical care they need.