Building on the strengths of first responders as a critical first point of contact: Improving emergency care in remote Indigenous communities

Applying an ethnographic and story-based approach, the objective of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by first responders in four remote Indigenous communities on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Working collaboratively with first responders and community health leaders, this project will identify: existing community supports; interventions that can improve the experiences and effectiveness of first responders; and an assessment of these interventions. First responders provide a critical first point of contact for serious injury or accidents in many remote Indigenous communities. These positions are often held by unpaid volunteers with little access to supports such as training and post-incident clinical debriefing. Despite these challenges, they provide an invaluable service to their communities, access to emergency services has been identified as contributing to the health disparities faced by Indigenous communities. Improving effectiveness of first responders in emergency situations will require building on the strengths already present within communities, by identifying avenues for more sustainable first response services and support.