First Response Team

Clockwise from top left: Doug Wagener (Bayfield), Dennis Scale (Nares), Robert Leblond (Nares), Trina Ord (Bayfield). Not shown: Butch Folland, Peter O’Grady, Jim Clawson, Tim Squirrell, Aiden O’Donoghue, Rob Stephenson


In 2007, the young adult son of a cottage owner was using the family island with some friends. One of them had an evening fall, injuring his head badly. The son called 911 but didn’t know the island number and didn’t feel safe navigating the family boat at night.

The paramedics who responded to the call reached Bayfield Inlet, but couldn’t find anyone to transport them to the island, whose location wasn’t even known. They returned to Parry Sound without the injured young man.

The next morning, Bayfield regular Don Ord was driving by the island and was waved in for help. He assessed the situation, called the paramedics again, and got the injured young man to the mainland.

The patient was airlifted to Sudbury, a six-hour delay after his accident. It was a close call, but he survived.

As a result, then BNIA board member Ally O’Grady suggested we form an organized emergency program, and the First Response Team was born. The idea is a lot like fire response in our archipelago. We are our own custodians, at least for initial response, because we can’t rely on traditional emergency services to reach us promptly, if at all.

How the First Response Team works now

Here’s how the First Response Team works now for medical emergencies. All the services provided by local, qualified volunteers using BNIA-supplied equipment:

The Bayfield First Responders are divided into two groups, according to their expertise. Doug Wagener, Tim Squirrell and Aiden O’Donoghue all know the channels, islands (and shoals) of Bayfield very well.

First Responders Butch Folland, Peter O’Grady, Trina Ord and newcomer Rob Stevenson all have up-to-date medical qualifications including life support and trauma certificates in CPR, defibrillator (AED) and oxygen use. Trina and Rob also own pontoon boats, useful for patient transportation, and Trina is a rescue diver.

Once on site, the First Responder team stabilizes the victim and takes them to the mainland to meet the ambulance. In all cases so far, this has been accomplished in less than an hour.

The Nares program

The emergency equipment on hand at Bayfield is duplicated at Springhaven Lodge / Nares Landing, where Dennis Scale is the provider of all assistance, including splints, bandages, CPR masks, ointments, basic over-the-counter pain meds, a stretcher and neck collar, and an AED.

A second Bayfield defibrillator in a waterproof case has been added this year, kept permanently in Butch Folland’s boat, to enable speedier attention to anyone with a heart emergency. We have also added a supply of Naloxone nasal spray kits, to treat opiate overdoses.

The most important thing

Here’s the most important thing all islanders can do to prepare for a medical emergency: keep your cottage or island identification number and our emergency phone chart in a prominent place where any cottage user can find and use it in an instant! And call 911 — that’s the only number needed to get help within minutes.

For a fire emergency, see this page.