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Partnership aims to improve emergency care in four remote First Nations

Through his role with the BC Emergency Medicine Network, CHÉOS Scientist Dr. Jim Christenson is part of a project that aims to improve emergency care in four remote Nuu-Chah-Nulth communities through community engagement, partnerships, and research. Below is an article originally published in the Nuu Chah Nulth newspaper.


To improve emergency care for remote First Nations communities, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) partnered with the University of British Columbia’s Department of Emergency Medicine to create Kwiis-hen-niip, meaning “change” in Nuu-chah-nulth.

In collaboration with BC Emergency Health Services, the First Nations Health Authority, Island Health, among others, four Nuu-chah-nulth nations are involved in the project.

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations recently wrapped up the first year of the four-year partnership funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a federal agency for health research.

Based on community-identified needs, Kwiis-hen-niip aims to improve emergency care through enhanced support for first responders, community readiness, patient transport and communications.

Most recently, all four nations were tasked to appoint a first responder coordinator that is responsible for supporting programming and training to bolster emergency response within their communities.

Bernard Charleson is Hesquiaht’s first responder coordinator and emergency operations coordinator (EOC).

As the EOC, Charleson collaborates with other first responder coordinators from the neighbouring nations involved with the project. He’s expected to participate in regular first responder meetings, help to create a system for collecting information on first responders call-outs, as well as identify equipment, supply and training needs.

“We’re the kind of people that ask a lot of questions and bother a lot of people until we get an answer,” he said.

Hesquiaht’s on-reserve community is located at Hot Springs Cove. It takes around two and a half hours for members to travel to Tofino, he said.

“We don’t have regular doctor visits,” said Charleson. “It is a little bit of work coordinating flights and emergencies and supplies.”

While Charleson said the nation’s remote location helped to keep the community safe from COVID-19, it did pose other challenges, such as food supply shortages.

View the full article here on CHÉOS News | Partnership aims to improve emergency care in four remote First Nations