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Hometown Heroes: Ready to the rescue

Answering the call with North Cariboo Highway Rescue
Thomas Berard (left) and Reg Ettinger are some of the volunteers with North Cariboo Highway Rescue. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

Thomas Berard and Reg Ettinger are all about helping others, and that’s why they’re on standby, ready to rush to life-saving calls on Cariboo roads.

The two friends are volunteers with North Cariboo Highway Rescue.

Berard, an officer in training and full-time volunteer, has been with the non-profit emergency rescue for two years.

“When I was a kid, I was on the bad side a little bit, so I wanted to start doing something for my community and help people out instead of doing wrong,” Berard said, noting he was starting to get into drugs.

“I did a whole 180, and I love doing this now.”

North Cariboo Highway Rescue covers a large area and has mutual aid agreements with Williams Lake and Prince George. Members respond to motor vehicle incidents extricating patients trapped inside their vehicles or retrieving them from embankments.

Some involve fatalities or life-threatening injuries.

Berard credits his wife and others with North Cariboo Highway Rescue, such as Ettinger, who he calls a childhood friend, helping him get through those tough calls.

“We’re not superheroes, but we try our best,” Berard said.

Ettinger, a captain with North Cariboo Highway Rescue, volunteers on his days off as a medic in the oil and gas industry.

He was previously with the Kersley Volunteer Fire Department but hurt his knee.

“My one friend was the captain at the time with North Cariboo Highway Rescue and said come and try our practice out,” Ettinger said. “I liked it, so I decided I would join, and I’ve been there for almost seven years.”

When not practicing or responding to calls, volunteers sometimes can be spotted at events showing kids and adults some of their tools, such as cutters or what most know as the ‘jaws of life.’

On Sept. 1. Berard and Ettinger were among the community groups at West Fraser Timber Park taking part in Community Chemistry.

To join North Cariboo Highway Rescue, swing by their practices starting Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at 298 Evans Drive in Quesnel to learn more. A junior program for people 16 years of age or older is available.

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