- GET INVOLVED
Nathan Lasseur of West Palm Beach, Florida is a 15-year veteran of West Palm Beach Fire Rescue and currently holds the position of operations lieutenant. Lasseur is the Founder and President of International Firefighters Assistance which was established in 2008 as a registered 501(c)3 non- profit organization in the state of Florida to provide education and training to firefighters and emergency rescue workers in underprivileged countries. One of IFA's primary roles is to distribute donated firefighting, EMS, and public safety equipment to those countries in need. Many of these developing countries' lack the necessary protective equipment and tools used to support their local communities during emergency and IFA is committed to providing them with the proper equipment. Through IFA’s relief programs, they hope to strengthen local communities by assisting its citizens to better prepare for emergencies and disasters.
HAITIAN FIREFIGHTERS TRAINED ON FIRE ENGINE OPERATIONS
The Croix-des-Bouquets Volunteer Emergency Service was initiated in 2010 by local citizens who were determined to make a change in protecting their community. Prior to the launch of this project, there was no other emergency response service in the area. With help from the International Firefighters Assistance (IFA), a Mack fire engine, which is named "Engine 22", will be the first fire suppression vehicle in the history of Croix-des-Bouquets. The vehicle will not only serve the city's nearly 500,000 residents, but also thousands of daily commuters who travel through this area. Engine 22, which was granted to the volunteer fire department by Florham Park Fire Department in New Jersey, will also provide a tremendous relief to the Port-au-Prince firefighters. Their station is currently the only municipal fire rescue facility in the entire capital; it serves a population of over 3 million people.
The Croix-des-Bouquets Volunteer Emergency Services (CBVES) received a donated ambulance in December 2011 courtesy of The Stentorians of Los Angeles County, a charter member of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters. Shortly after receiving the ambulance, IFA, a non- profit organization to provide education and training to firefighters and emergency rescue workers in developing countries provided a training to the CBVES volunteers on how to drive the ambulance and respond to emergency situations in Croix-des-Bouquets and surrounding areas. A year later, the CBVES have been responding to numerous calls for assistance and ensuring the over 500,000 residents are able to arrive at hospitals to receive lifesaving care.
Since receiving Engine 22, the CBVES volunteer firefighters the fire engine has not been put in service since none of the volunteer firefighters know how to drive the engine nor use the equipment on the truck; therefore, CBVES contacted FAVACA to provide a training on how to drive and use the equipment on Engine 22. From November 4-8, South Florida firefighters Gayl Nye, Johnny Gillins and Nathan Lasseur traveled to Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti to train 30 volunteer firefights on how to plan for extinguishing a fire once the team arrives at a fire, the role of each member of the truck during a fire, and how to operate the pump at a fire incident. The FAVACA volunteers also familiarized the crew with the basic operations of the truck and the equipment on board. The team taught why it is necessary to keep the truck and equipment at a state of readiness and how to maintain the equipment. In addition to the FAVACA volunteers, firefighters from the city of Port-au-Prince helped to train CBVES firefighters on many of these operations. The two cities were able to build a working relationship and hope to work together to respond to fires in the Port-au-Prince and Croix-des-Bouquets areas.
In addition to working with the firefighters of Croix-des-Bouquets, the FAVACA team and the CBVES volunteer firefighters held a training with the Croix-des-Bouquets community to teach first aid. The team taught approximately 30 men, women and children CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and other first aid and safety issues. For most residents of Croix-des-Bouquets, this was their first exposure to these lifesaving techniques and their first interaction with the volunteer firefighters. CBVES volunteer firefighters plan to continue to engage the residents of the city on first aid by holding similar trainings through the community over the next few months. The continued interaction with the residents of the city will help to improve the relations between CBVES and the community while also teaching residents how to respond during an emergency.
FIRE AND RESCUE TRAINING IN HAITIAN HOTEL
The Hotel Villa Creole was established in 1948 in Petion Ville, Haiti. The hotel employs 155 people to oversee 70 rooms. In the past, FAVACA has provided fire and rescue training to hotels in Port-au-Prince and Petion Ville but many of the employees who partook in the training have not used the training often or due to the high turnover rate in the hospitality sector, have not been trained in fire and rescue safety. Roger Dunwell, owner and general manager, requested a training in basic medical and water rescue including training on proper techniques for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver to enable the hotel staff to respond to emergencies in and around the hotel premises. Additionally, Dunwell requested training in basic fire safety to teach employees the correct method to suppress fires through the use of fire extinguishers. Experienced FAVACA volunteer Gayl Nye works for Florida Hearth and CPR in Vero Beach, Florida and Lt. Nathan Lasseur of the West Palm Beach Fire Rescue traveled October 4-8, 2009 to train the hotel staff. Approximately 30 employees from the Villa Creole and other hotels participated in the training.
EVACUATION PLAN AND FIRE SAFETY FOCUS FOR CAP HAITIEN HOSPITAL
Servicing a large majority of the healthcare needs in the Northern part of Haiti, the Justinian Hospital in Cap Haitien, Haiti is a vital resource for providing much needed medical services for a large sector of the population. Unfortunately, fires in the recent past have caused an entire wing of the hospital to be shut down which has forced the hospital to cut some services and has forced the hospital staff to merge hospital units together which has caused overcrowding and could lead to more serious problems such as an outbreak of a major disease. In order to help provide the hospital staff with the basic knowledge of fire safety, Konbit Sante, a nonprofit organization in Maine with the mission to save lives and improve health care in northern Haiti works in the Justinian hospital and requested assistance from FAVACA to provide training on fire safety such as prevention methods and hazardous materials recognition, creating an emergency evacuation plan which incorporated the local municipal fire department in the hospitals fire prevention plan, and basic first responder training for ambulance drivers. FAVACA Volunteers Nathan Lasseur from Palm Beach, Florida; Gayl Nye from Vero Beach, Florida; Robert Belizaire from Lake Worth, Florida; and Gina Lasseur form Palm Beach, Florida traveled to Cap Haitien, Haiti June 14-19, 2009. The four volunteers were able to have several Florida fire departments donate four boxes of fire alarms to place throughout the hospital. The training served as a first step in helping the hospital staff to identify many potential fire hazards as well as providing a working relationship between the hospital and local fire department.
EMERGENCY RESCUE TRAINING IN CAP HAITIEN
Adouin Zephirin, President of the Fondation Haitienne pour l’Avenir (FHA), requested training for fire personnel covering basic fire rescue, emergency response, swift water rescue, and first aid for 28 firefighters made up from firefighters from Cap Haitien, Gonaives, Saint-Marc, and Port-au-Prince. Veteran volunteers, Lt. Nathan Lasseur, West Palm Beach County Fire Department, Captain Lee Silverman, Montgomery County Fire Department, and Captain Rich Steer also from the Montgomery County Fire Department agreed to provide a week training in Cap Haitien from June 17-24, 2007. First time volunteer, Gayle Nye of Florida Heart CPR from Vero Beach, Florida also volunteered her time and expertise. Silverman and Steer were able to give instruction on swift water rescue and also techniques in dive rescue while Lasseur and Nye gave instruction on emergency medical procedures such as CPR and basic first aid for first responders. In addition to training firefighters, the volunteers were able to train close to 70 youth in basic first aid such as the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR.