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Boreal Community Media

Superior Response Conference Kicks Off Weekend Devoted To Emergency Service

Apr 26, 2019 02:57PM ● By Editor
Valerie Marasco, Director of Emergency Management for Cook County, welcomes participants to the Superior Response conference on Friday.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media

Staff reports from Boreal Community Media - April 26, 2019

 John Eloranta of Congressman Pete Stauber's office made comments to conference participants on Friday afternoon in Grand Marais.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media

Members of the First Responders community from across Cook and Lake Counties plus Northern Ontario gathered for the 36th annual Cook County Superior Response Emergency Service Conference in Grand Marais.  Friday's opening session was introduced by Cook County Director of Emergency Management Valerie Marasco.  She greeted participants in the new Emergency Operations Center in the Cook County Community Center, newly outfitted with large screen monitors, computers and other technology to be used in emergency situations.  Marasco estimates about 70 participants registered for the conference.  The conference's presenting sponsor is North Shore Health Care Foundation.

Conference participants were welcomed by John Eloranta of U.S. Congressman Peter Stauber's office.  "Pete Stauber knows first hand that firefighters, police officers and first responders carry the weight of the world of their shoulders, said Mr. Eloranta, "They deserve the training and resources necessary so they can return to their families safely every night."  Eloranta highlighted several pieces of legislation Stauber has sponsored in Congress to protect law enforcement and first responders and raise the penalties for those that take the lives of people working in the line of duty to protect the public safety.  "Thank you for all that you do and Congressman Staubers sends you his best," Eloranta told the audience.

 Wendy McCartney of the U.S. Forest Service presents to the audience on Friday.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media.

Friday's general sessions included a presentation by Wendy McCartney, U.S. Forest Service Fuels Technician for Superior National Forest entitled 'The Story of One Wildland Firefighter'.  Ms. McCartney has 21 years of experience fighting wildfires in every region of the country.  She shared photographs and recounted an extremely difficult mountainside emergency rescue operation of an injured firefighter during a wildfire incident in the Sawtooth Mountain range in Idaho in 2010.

"I have fought wildfires in for 21 years, and every single fire is different, it is never the same," said McCartney, "You can always learn something different and take that forward to the next incident." She shared her experiences of how the incident impacted her personally.  And how that learning experience could be applied to how first responders deal with stress, pressure and team leadership.  

Amy Larue addresses the conference about building resilience.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media

Later Dr. Amy Larue, RPN/PHD from the University of Wisconsin Superior discussed how First Responders can build resilience to overcome trauma as they respond to emergency situations.

"My opinion is that we are kind of doing things backwards, said LaRue, "Instead of letting things get bad and trying to fix, we should fix it in the first place.  If we look at things differently and understand what is happening in our bodies, we can do something about it"

"Trauma is a normal human response to an abnormal situation" said LaRue, "Trauma is better understood as an injury to the brain than an illness," said LaRue, "Compassion fatigue and burn-out syndrome are commonly experienced by first responders and acute stress disorder (ASD) can proceed PTSD in as little as four weeks."

LaRue said resilience can be learned by changing your mindset. Building a sense of community, acknowledging emotions, focusing on what's good, practicing gratitude, physical exercise, building connections and learning how to make yourself stress free were all aspects that people can learn to become more resilient, according to Larue.

Valerie Marasco also introduced members of the Boreal Community Media who were on-site to remind the emergency management community of the Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal.  This on-line digital resource has more than 300 articles on various aspects of preparing for an emergency at home, on the road, on the water and in the wilds.  With a better informed and prepared public, ideally the need for the services of the emergency management community may be diminished.  The Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal can be accessed 24/7 by following this link.

As the conference unfolds across the weekend, members of local volunteer fire
departments, EMT/EMS, the Forest Service, healthcare providers, law enforcement, Border Patrol and other members of the emergency management community will attend seminars related to suicide prevention and education, situational awareness, tactical medicine, leadership ethics, weather forecasting and more.  Some physical outdoor training exercises will also be held over the course of the day and half day conference.

Boreal Community Media will cover various aspects of the Superior Response Conference over the course of the event.  Please return to look for new articles.  

And thanks to all the emergency response workers and volunteers for their dedication to keeping the public safe.

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