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KERPA nears fundraising finish line, one last push Thursday at Broken Hill

Kootenay Emergency Response Physicians Association (KERPA) had a successful summer fundraising for its second response vehicle, but it’s calling on the community one more time. 

This Thursday, KERPA’s final fundraiser of 2023 will be held at Broken Hill. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and gives the community the opportunity to meet KERPA’s team, inquire about the organization, and participate in a silent auction with prizes donated from multiple local businesses. 

All the proceeds from the auction and the $10 cover charge go directly towards KERPA and their goal of continuing to expand the service regionally with a second response vehicle. 

The second vehicle has already been purchased. The KERPA team has been working on it steadily over the last few months as funds came in from this summer’s fundraisers, according to the organization 

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The investment will be roughly $150,000 once the vehicle is fully equipped, but Dr. Nic Sparrow says they’ve already raised about 80 per cent of their goal. 

The difference between KERPA and EMS is in the level of care, explained Sparrow. Because KERPA’s first responders are physicians, they’re allowed to administer general anesthetic, monitor cardiac rhythms, and more, which requires different equipment than in a typical ambulance. 

“We carry some surgical instruments so we can put holes in the side of patients’ chests if required at the roadside,” he said  

“We also carry advanced life support drugs for cardiac arrest, an automatic chest compression device, and then in the event of mass casualty incidents, we have special equipment that we can utilize within the truck as well.” 

The organization is 100 per cent not-for-profit. Sparrow says the community has always come through to support them. 

“We are amazingly backed by the community in everything. Everything that is done for the charity is done for free, and I think the community knows that and they seem to massively support us.” 

Sparrow added that since its inception, KERPA has responded to over 1,000 9-1-1 calls in the region, but up until 2022, they were restricted from responding outside the local territory. 

“Now that we’re automatically dispatched in the region, the number of critical patients that we’re able to attend on a yearly basis has increased by 50 per cent. We’ve had a lot of challenging red-tape roadblocks on the way to get regionally dispatched, yet that truck was available in the region.” 

Sparrow says the near 10-year journey to establish KERPA has had some resistance from the public. He referred to comments on KERPA’s social media pages criticizing the organization’s efforts, accusing Sparrow and his team of interfering with paramedics and hindering pre-hospital care. 

Sparrow says while the pushback surprises him, the greater community and the local first responders appreciate the assistance. 

“All the paramedics, firefighters, and the community understand what we’re able to do, and how we’ve helped so many people in the community. But whenever we post information that we’re succeeding and we’re able to provide more care or more help, we get negative comments. My reply is, why wouldn’t a physician want to go and help people in their community who they know and care about at some of the most challenging situations that people face?” 

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