Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) celebrated staff member Echo Dumas’s quick thinking that saved a God’s Lake First Nation woman’s life during their Sept. 13 meeting in Thompson.
During the Friday get-together, therapist Mary Azure-Laubmann explained that she, Dumas and at least one other KTC staff member were deployed to this First Nation to provide crisis response after a string of youth suicides triggered a state of emergency in late August.
The team was returning to their residence around lunchtime Sept. 6 when they spotted a serious all-terrain vehicle accident on the side of the road.
“We noticed a quad that had crashed up against a steel fence,” said Azure-Laubmann. “There was a steel pole there and then we looked to the ground and there was this lady and she was just laying there lifeless and we thought she was dead.”
Before anyone else reacted, Azure-Laubmann said Dumas flew out of the truck they were in and took charge of the scene, performing CPR on the injured woman and telling nearby bystanders how they could help.
“She checked with the lady to see if she was still breathing and she started talking to her, telling her not to move,” said Azure-Laubmann. “She got everybody that was there doing their roles in medical first aid … she got them to call 911 and she got the guys to look for a board to put the lady on.”
Dumas later told the Nickel Belt News that this woman, who is a mother of three and around 30 years old, risked serious spine and neck injuries after sustaining such a serious crash.
“She must have been carrying groceries with her one arm and driving the quad, because the groceries were all over the ground,” she said. “I put her on a backboard, made sure there was no further damage to her spine and then jumped in the back of a diesel truck and brought her to the nursing station.”
The Gods Lake Narrows resident was eventually medevaced to Winnipeg for further treatment. KTC was later told that she survived the incident and is doing well.
“If things didn’t happen the way that they did I believe this woman would have died,” said Azure-Laubmann. “I can’t say enough about Echo and the job that she does as an emergency response worker.”
For her heroic actions, KTC CEO George Neepin and director of health John Spence presented Dumas with a star blanket during Friday’s ceremony.
Spence also mentioned that this isn’t the first time that Dumas has saved a life, since part of her role at KTC is to visit isolated Indigenous communities and teach the residents how to perform first aid. This training paid off in a tangible way in Brochet a couple years ago when someone almost drowned during a fishing expedition.
“The people she trained saw the incident and they ran to go revive him and saved his life,” said Spence. “So because of this training she’s making a big impact on the community.”
Neepin went on to say that Dumas’s actions are emblematic of KTC as a whole, since their mission statement is to protect the well-being of 11 northern First Nations, including instances when a community like Gods Lake Narrows experiences an ongoing health crisis.
“When the call comes in we’re there … not two or three days after. We’re one of the first ones on the ground and that’s our primary goal: to serve our communities. And I’d like to thank Echo and John and all our coworkers for the fine job they’re doing.”
Dumas said she started working for KTC as a dispatcher in 2015 and has almost 10 years of first aid training under her belt.