The Sheila Christian Emergency Response Association (SCERA)


The Big Tancook Island Emergency Response Association (formally Sheila Christian Emergency Response Association) is a non-profit, volunteer organization incorporated in January 1998 on Big Tancook Island, Nova Scotia. The association is a Registered Charity.

The purpose of the Association is to provide emergency medical care and covered transportation for patients to the Island ferry or to the air medical transport helicopter in event of a medical emergency on the Island.

Since the formation of the organization, a decommissioned ambulance has been acquired and equipped with most of the basic requirements. Several members trained as Medical First Responders through the Provincially sponsored Medical First Responders course Medical First Responders courseand several others are Basic and Standard First Aid trained. The Association is linked to the NS 911 system.

Our first emergency response vehicle purchased in January 1998

Our new emergency response vehicle purchased in November 2002

Interior of new vehicle

Volunteers are the heart of the organization and there can never be too many. Not all volunteers are involved in the first aid area of the association. Some are involved in fund raising, driving and assisting on the emergency vehicle, preparing the helicopter landing site and being on hand for Lifeflight, the Provincial Air Medical Transport helicopter, arrival.

Some of the members have done a landing-zone crew helicopter course. In severe or life threatening situations Medical First Responders have the authority to put the Lifeflight team on standby for quick evacuation of patients from the Island. Once the Lifeflight Physician has approved the need for the evacuation the Lifeflight helicopter is launched. In ideal conditions flying time from the Halifax International Airport is approximately 15 minutes. Flying time from Tancook Island to QEII Health Science Centre in Halifax is 12 minutes.

Fund Raising - Fund raising has been mainly confined to fund raising events on the island. There have been Bingo evenings, Fun Days, dinners and draws for some great prizes. Local people and merchants (Tancook and Chester area) have been very supportive in appeals for prizes for these events. However, now that we are a registered charity, we are now looking further afield to corporations and will be conducting a fairly aggressive fund raising campaigns.

Where do the funds go?

Communications: This is probably the biggest regular expense. "On duty" volunteers keep in touch with pagers and cell phone.

Vehicle maintenance: Our emergency vehicle requires maintenance and fuel. Island roads are not kind to vehicles and in November 2002, we purchased a replacement for our original vehicle. .

Training: Some of our members completed the Provincial Medical First Responder course and are now registered Medical First Responders. Others have trained in Standard First Aid. During Fall and Winter we have regular training sessions. First Responders and First Aiders have to re-certify every few years.

Equipment: Since becoming part of the Provincial Medical First Responder program, the organization is entitled to receive replacements on the disposable equipment, i.e. oxygen, masks, bandages, linen, blankets and pillows. However, there are still some supplies which the organization must provide. Some, hopefully, are "once only" items like stethoscopes for First Responders; others such as batteries for pagers and flashlights, ice packs, paper towels, etc. have to be constantly replenished.

What to do in a medical emergency on Tancook Island.

For people not familiar with medical emergency procedures on Tancook Island, you can do one of two things:

DIAL 911. Emergency Dispatch will contact the team and they will respond to the place of the emergency. Some volunteers hold pagers which shorten response time . In the meantime they will be activating either the ferry and mainland ambulance, or the Air Medical Transport Helicopter.

When you contact 911, you will be asked the nature of your emergency so that you can be put in touch with the correct agency. You will then be asked some basic questions and confirm the address you are calling from. Please keep in mind that questions you will be asked are important and in the long run could actually save time. Please stay on the line until you are told to hang up.

If you have a local doctor (Chester, Bridgewater, etc.) and you contact him/her, they can call out the ferry to do an emergency run if required. Most local doctors know of our existence and can call us if they feel that immediate help would benefit (e.g. oxygen administration), they may call us to respond to your emergency.

If you would like to become a volunteer with B.T.I.E.R.A., please call: Linda MacKenzie - 228-2008 Remember, First Aid experience is not necessary. There are many areas where you can help and volunteer input is very important. We hold monthly meetings September through June on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our mailing address is: B.T.I.E.R.A., P.O. Box 73, Big Tancook Island, NS B0J 3G0