The Saanich Fire Department Station #2 C-Battalion members (left to right) firefighter Clayton Tilon, firefighter Bonnie Fiala, firefighter Zay Hamilton, Capt. Dawrin Schellenberg and firefighter Charlie Rivers show off their BC Emergency Health Servicecs Vital Link Award. (Photo courtesy Darwin Schellenberg)

The Saanich Fire Department Station #2 C-Battalion members (left to right) firefighter Clayton Tilon, firefighter Bonnie Fiala, firefighter Zay Hamilton, Capt. Dawrin Schellenberg and firefighter Charlie Rivers show off their BC Emergency Health Servicecs Vital Link Award. (Photo courtesy Darwin Schellenberg)

Saanich firefighters receive Vital Link Award from paramedics for life-saving CPR

Award issued to C-Battalion, civilian for help saving cardiac arrest patient in June

A battalion of Saanich firefighters received an award from B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) for its role in saving the life of a patient in cardiac arrest.

During a private ceremony at the Saanich Fire Department’s Station #2, paramedics presented C-Battalion with a Vital Link Award to recognize the team’s role in a June 20 incident involving a patient who suffered a cardiac arrest. Thanks to the efforts of paramedics, firefighters and a civilian coached by call takers, the patient made a successful recovery, said BCEHS spokesperson Shannon Miller

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Capt. Darwin Schellenberg noted this was the first time Saanich firefighters have received this award as it’s typically given to bystanders who step in to help in an emergency. The civilian who performed CPR until firefighters arrived also received an award for their involvement.

It’s not uncommon for BCEHS to send firefighters to severe medical calls or when paramedics will be delayed for some reason because early intervention is key, explained Deputy Fire Chief Dan Wood. The focus is on fires but firefighters are trained in CPR and attend calls involving traumatic injuries, heart attacks and breathing difficulties.

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The Saanich department has a good relationship with BCEHS and assists whenever needed, Schellenberg said.

Wood said many firefighters have Emergency Medical Responder certification and some worked as paramedics in the past. Schellenberg emphasized that firefighter Clayton Tilon, a former paramedic, was “instrumental” in responding to recent medical calls.

Vital Link Awards nominations are made by BCEHS staff and presented to citizens across B.C. who assist in cardiac arrest emergencies.

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“It takes knowledge, courage and conviction to act in an emergency. The Vital Link Award is a community ceremony meant to honour people who worked together to save a life,” Miller said.

Firefighters don’t need recognition to do their jobs, Schellenberg said, but it’s “extra special” to receive a commendation from their peers at BCEHS.


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