As a teen, Ottawa’s Eric Roy developed an interest in saving lives. Today, Roy’s First Aid Plus teaches people how to help others
Eric Roy recalls when last summer, an Ottawa mother took a course with his company, First Aid Plus. Three days later, her five-year-old son fell into the family’s pool, Roy says. She used her newfound medical training to keep the boy stable until the paramedics arrived.
“She came into the office a few days after the incident, in tears, [to thank us for] providing her the training and confidence to save her son’s life,” says Roy.
Although stories like this are the reason that the Ottawa resident started his company — which offers one of the most diverse selections of first aid training courses in the province — he hopes his students will never need to use their skills. But statistics show that at some point, they likely will, making these courses a smart investment for parents and caregivers.
“The majority of all accidents and EMS calls occur at home,” says Roy, “and as such, parents are always looking at ways to be better prepared to help their loved ones. We constantly have feedback from past students about how their training saved a life.”
The founder and president of First Aid Plus, Roy — who has been in the business of teaching people how to save lives for almost 25 years — has heard these stories many times. He took his first Canadian Red Cross Training Course at just 16, and wanting to help others, went on to complete a first aid course and enrol in the Canadian Armed Forces. After relocating to Ottawa in 1993 to study to be a paramedic, he began teaching first aid to his friends and family during his time off. Roy became a St. John Ambulance instructor in 1998 and an instructor trainer in 2001.
When the demand for first aid training grew, Roy struck out on his own and founded First Aid Plus in 2009. The company delivers more than 500 courses a year — more than 10,000 since its inception — to students all over the world. Although most students come from eastern Ontario and western Quebec, the First Aid Plus team has also taught in Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, Haiti, St-Kitts-Nevis, Antigua and Bermuda, as well as assisting in national emergencies — the B.C. wildfires in 2001; eastern Ontario’s ice storm in 1998, and floods in Gatineau in 2019.
Local residents will also spot the company’s staff at community and sporting events, including Spartan Races and Ottawa Humane Society’s Wiggle Waggle Walk and Run, where they provide first aid and educational services.
Even with these events on hiatus during the COVID-19, demand remained for First Aid Plus’s services. “All of our courses are considered essential services, so we were quite busy during the pandemic,” says Roy, who is also a trainer for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Stop the Bleed, ITLS and the ACT Foundation. “Especially as we had smaller classes due to space restrictions.
“It’s clear that first aid education is vital to our own safety and gives us the ability to help others when in need,” continues Roy. “Not only does this lead to a better understanding of what to do in an emergency, but also to raise awareness and reduce the rate of injury.”
First Aid Plus offers more than 30 courses, including recertification, for both interest learners and healthcare providers. “We have a wide range of people that sign up and take our courses, from new parents, medical professionals and folks that just want to know more for general interest,” says Roy.
Many students are regular citizens, with no medical backgrounds — including parents, who want to be proactive in the case of an emergency. For that reason, First Aid Plus’s most popular courses are its Standard First Aid, Pet First Aid, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) courses. “We would recommend that parents and siblings come and take either a full Standard First Aid or a Blended First Aid,” says Roy. “If they have pets, we also highly encourage that they take the Pet First Aid training. For teenagers and those looking for a little extra pocket money and considering babysitting, our first aid and babysitting courses are a great option.”
General interest courses also include Emergency First Aid and Wilderness and Remote First Aid, a portion of which is taught outdoors. The Medical Terminology Course will introduce those not currently involved in the healthcare environment with an introduction to the language of medicine.
The company also trains professionals and healthcare providers. Offerings include the First Responder Course, which covers comprehensive first aid and CPR skills for professional first responders or those training to become first responders; Marine First Aid, which meets the requirements of Transport Canada; Transportation of Dangerous Goods; EKG for health care professionals; and Emergency Medical Responder, an in-depth course which follows National Occupational Competency Profiles (NOCP) as defined by the Paramedic Association of Canada. Bloodborne Pathogens is a program is designed for individuals who may be exposed to blood and body fluids or items contaminated with blood during the performance of their work.
In addition to providing student-centred training, First Aid Plus also sells first aid supplies, from disposable face masks to an automated external defibrillator.
It may sound complicated, but it’s not, says Roy. “Our courses simply provide people with the training and understanding to know how best to help those closest them when an injury occurs. CPR and choking protocols are taught and these are generally what most parents wish to know more about. Our courses ensure they are trained and confident to help loved ones.”