Wednesday, 02 November 2016 13:28

Fundraiser for Tilley fire dept. straight from the heart

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Donny Lee Glen Nahorney is the apple of his father Jason Nahorney's eyes. Donny Lee Glen Nahorney is the apple of his father Jason Nahorney's eyes. Photo contributed

When one hears the phrase about wanting to “give back to the community” it’s usually because someone wants to do something beneficial because they feel fortunate to be part of the town in which they are residing.


For County of Newell resident Rae-Leigh Ferris, she has an extra special (bundle of joy) reason for giving back.
Because of the professionalism and smooth handling of a double-life and death association by Tilley deputy fire chief Darren Hofmann, Ferris and her son Donny Nahorney are alive today.
Nearly a year after the near tragedy where Ferris had a stroke following her water breaking while carrying Donny, Ferris is holding a fundraiser to raise money for a a specialized training mannequin for those in the emergency services within the County of Newell to use. If they raise enough money, Ferris wants to purchase a toddler sized mannequin too.
The fundraiser takes place at the Tilley Community Hall Nov. 19 complete with dinner, entertainment and a silent auction.
The reason for the mannequin is simple for Ferris — she wants to help ensure all emergency personnel in the County of Newell have access to infant CPR training.
“When our situation happened, (Hofmann) required the knowledge of CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) of the neo-natal variety,” explains Ferris.
He had the training but they have
to borrow a mannequin from another jurisdiction in order to do so. Ferris thought in order to not only say a heartfelt appreciative thank you and acknowledgment to the Tilley fire department, she wanted to help them.
“It seemed like a fitting thing.”
Ferris adds volunteers typically train or refresh their child/infant CPR training on toy dolls as there is not
an infant or child CPR mannequin available from any fire department within the County of Newell. 
“We are profoundly grateful to the midwife, the volunteer firefighters,
the Brooks Paramedics, the Emergency Team at the Medicine Hat Hospital
and to those who donated blood,” says Ferris. “We have decided to hold a fundraiser to thank the volunteer firefighters and raise money to purchase a child (and if enough money is raised) and infant CPR mannequin
to be used throughout the County of Newell.”
The timing of the event is simple:
it will be held exactly one year after Donny’s birth.
Hofmann and fellow member Richard Villanue arrived on scene which only a short time before seemed like a normal situation of a woman being pregnant and her water breaking.
“November 19, 2015 I was in very early labour and suffered what is known as an Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE). An AFE is caused by amniotic fluid somehow entering the mother’s bloodstream,” Ferris explains.
She notes it is characterized by three key things: maternal stroke; maternal cardiac arrest and hemorrhaging/DIC.
“This is usually fatal, it is estimated that over 85 per cent of moms and babies die from an AFE. What is so remarkable is that both my son and
I survived an AFE that occurred at home, and it is undoubtedly thanks
to the volunteer from the Tilley Fire Department who quickly arrived to provide life saving support to us ...
It was a miracle story, and the volunteers that arrived were our
angels that night.”
Because the Tilley firefighters arrived before the paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) did, Hofmann had to perform CPR on Donny who was not breathing.
Ferris and Donny were then taken by ambulance to Medicine Hat. She had lost a lot of blood. With just the paramedic and the EMT they decided they needed to stabilize both Donny and herself in the back of the ambulance. They had the wherewithal to let Hofmann drive them to the Medicine Hat hospital to an awaiting medical team which would pump more than 20 bags of blood back into Ferris’ system. They were transferred to Calgary where they received more intensive care.
“My husband commented on that and said how impressed he was with how well the paramedics and the volunteers communicated with each other,”
says Ferris. “My husband said they respected each other and it wasn’t an ego-driven thing. They trusted his training.”
Ferris spent several weeks in hospital and once stabilized she ensured her baby and family were okay.
Then her thoughts turned to her heroes, including the ones from the Tilley fire department.
“I started asking questions and one of the first was ‘does Darren know I’m okay?’ My thought was that they don’t know, due to confidentiality,” explains Ferris.” My neighbour shows up, saves the day with the CPR and drives the ambulance and he has to wait to find out how we are. I got one of my girlfriends to help and I asked her if she would tell them we were alive. Nobody knew. They were not told we were okay.
“With Tilley’s department most of the time you know that they respond to a lot of accidents because we are near the (TransCanada) highway,” explains Ferris who adds she has known Hofmann for years. “We live on a farm so we just see them take care of grass fires and such so honestly no, we didn’t think of it other than these people were volunteers for their community.”
Ferris and her husband see them in a totally different light now. She can’t imagine what it’d be like for these volunteers to have the training that they do, to go into a dire situation of many multitudes involving friends and loved ones and keep their composure while using their skillsets to save lives.
“It takes a really special kind of person,” Ferris says. “I have incredible respect for what these men and women do and know.”
“I mean, (the Tilley firefighters) showed up,  ... effectively walking into a situation where people are dying and then getting them to breath on their shift and they are on call and not paid to come. That takes tremendous strength.”
Tilley’s fire chief Patrick Fabian couldn’t be happier with his squad. This particular situation personifies his team overall and why it’s so special to his community.
“As the fire chief (there are) two words: humbled, proud,” explains Fabian. “Humbled in that, a lot of times, we as first responders, we have to have hope that many things fall into place and to have that kind of outcome,” he said, his voice tailing off. “Proud: this is what our guys are trained to do and what they signed up to do. It doesn’t happen all the time,
but it’s that one time that all the time spent studying and training and all the practices are worth it.”
He couldn’t feel more special about the efforts being made by Ferris to contribute to the team.
The Nov. 19 fundraiser starts with the doors opening at 6 p.m. and roast beef dinner at 6:30 p.m. The family friendly-band The Paragoners will play.
Ferris would be grateful for any silent auction items and those can be donated by phoning her at 403-376-2665.
Tickets can be purchased online at: http://sendomatic.com/asp/v?r=rae
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. _1315669408 or in person at the Tilley Store, the Steaming Cup or Mario’s Electric in Brooks.
As well, direct monetary donations can be made at the Brooks Alberta Treasury Branch in trust to the Tilley fire department fundraiser. There was a mini-documentary filmed about Rae-Leigh and Donny and parts of that will be shown that night as well.
Ferris is thankful for everything and thanks God for all of the work done by everyone.
“We are very blessed.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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