Beach MEtroNewspaper

Beach Metro Newspaper

Beach paramedic C.J.Johnson is at the top of her field

By Grant Jennings

Scared of heights? So is C.J. Johnson. What did she do about it? She joined a highrise  rescue team to conquer those f fears.

She hasn’t totally conquered her apprehensiveness but manages to put it aside when it comes to training for her role in a very uniques organization.

Ceridwen Johnson, who goes by C.J., is a member of  the HEART-Highrise Emergency Aerial Team.

“I have a tendency to go out on a limb with the things that I do,” she says.

The Beacher is an integral part of the team that was put together by Ivan Kristoff to provide support for emergency services crews who need expertise in getting injured people out of dangerous situation.

C.J. is a member of the Toronto Paramedics Association and puts her medical expertise to use with other members of HEART, who are all trained rope-access specialists.

The nonprofit team can help fire and ambulance crews in special circumstances, whether it’s a high rise building, a bridge or a cliff.

An all on their own time.

“The volunteer aspect is part of what attracted me to it,” C.J. said. She was also motivated by “being willing to go out on a limb, dealing with your own sense of fear.”

Krtistoff ran into C.J. while she was taking an…

…safety ropes and harnesses – including the photographer – and the crew repelled from the top of the ten meter high diving platform to the bottom of the empty pool.

It was exactly an easy spot to work from as there were limited places to secure ropes and it was an extremely windy day. Despite that, they overcame hte obstacles pulled it off flawlessly.

In an emergency situation the pressure would obviously be more intense, but C.J. says that would only heighten their ability to get the job done.

depending on the circumstances she said the average set-up time would range between 15 and 30 minutes before the crew could get to an injured person.

‘Working with Ivan, the set up is quick, but it is still safe.” she said.

For her, learning the rope work is a first.

“Part of being a medic comes naturally,” she said. “Learning the repelling is just another notch in my belt.”

As for the rest of it, she considers it standard fare.

“I have to rely on my partner,” she said. “The teamwork aspect is the same.”

But those heights.

“It’s a healthy fear,” C.J. jokes “It’s nothing that is paralyzing.

“Most people have a terrified view of heights, but having this professional team behind me means my focus is on the patient.”

It’s that focus that let’s nothing stand in her way.

“It can be a lot of fun, it’s quite an experience,” she said.

“I think I’ve finally found a niche, this is one thing I’ve found I can really give of myself.”

You’ve got to give it to her. Most people wouldn’t go off the end of that diving platform, even with water in the pool. However, if you were injured in a location where only ropes could get you, the Eiger HEART team might make the difference between life and death.

Photo:  C.J. Johnson is a member of Ivan Kristoff’s HEART – a volunteer organization which helps emergency service crews with rope-access rescues.