Active First Aid Inc.
Through its personnel, Active First Aid Inc. takes on the responsibility of maintaining safety standards on construction sites in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The company works hard to support its staff and to keep workers on construction sites out of harm’s way.
With all the construction currently underway in Vancouver, Active First Aid offers complete safety solutions for the construction industry. Active First Aid provides onsite safety officers and first aid attendants, with the management team executing additional safety inspections on a biweekly basis, ensuring protocols are followed according to WorkSafe standards. Active First Aid provides safety support from the onset of a project all the way to completion, whether the project lasts two weeks or two years.
Active First Aid Inc., a Greater Vancouver company, was launched in 2009 amid the economic downturn. The idea came to Heather James, CEO of Active First Aid, while she worked as a first aid attendant through temporary placement agencies. James saw the opportunity to improve the business model of these agencies and started her own company — a specialized firm that places first aid and safety professionals on construction sites.
The industry has remained fairly stable throughout the recession and Vancouver remains a Canadian construction hotspot. The combination of the B.C. government’s economic action plan and foreign investment have made Vancouver a busy area for construction. “If you are going to be in the construction business anywhere Canada, B.C. and Vancouver especially is the place to be,” says James. According to James, there are also renovations underway on public buildings such as correction facilities, colleges, high schools, and so on; the residential sector has also maintained a steady pace.
Active First Aid has done extremely well in the difficult economic environment, and today there is only place to go — up. In just three years of operation the company raised the number of full time employees to seven, and also hired seven part-time employees, with the number of part-time employees fluctuating.
On top of this growth, James’ husband Michael, has also joined the company to foster additional growth.
The core idea behind Active First Aid was to provide contractors with first aid and safety personnel who are reliable, experienced and, most importantly, active while on site. “Our clients are paying for our services, it’s important to us that we provide them with a worker that will pitch in around site rather than someone who just sits around waiting to be needed,” James explains.
When hiring employees, James has strict guidelines in terms of certification. “To become a First Aid Attendant onsite, you have to have an Occupational First Aid, Level 2 or Level 3 to be considered for a position. If you want to be a safety officer you also have to get safety officer certification. All employees undergo proper interview sessions and reference checks. Following these guidelines, we have created a strong and capable team. In fact, since inception, Active First Aid has gone without any life threatening or serious accidents,” says James.
Active First Aid appeals to safety professionals by treating them in the same manner as a large company would treat a full-time employee. When James worked through agencies, she would have to go in to the agency every morning, get a ticket, work the day, bring the ticket back to receive the day’s pay, and then deposit the cheque before returning home. This was a long and time consuming process. Employees of Active First Aid have the benefit of having their own time sheets signed at job sites, and being able to fax timesheets to the office and receive direct deposit payment on a biweekly basis, saving valuable personal time.
“We take care of all of our employees, but our focus is on the long-term positions. We provide our employees with fair wages, health benefits and everything they would expect from a large company and a solid employer,” says James.
James is looking forward to some exciting additions to the business offerings of Active First Aid. While nothing has crystalized into a full plan yet, the main prospect in her sights is an acquisition of an emergency transport vehicle, equipped with a portable first aid station and supplies. Acquiring such vehicle would mean that the company can start taking on projects in distant locations — more than a 20 minute drive from a hospital. “This will open up the industry for Active First Aid even more, allowing us to work on infrastructure projects as well as construction sites outside the main urban centres,” says James.
Another role that James hopes to fill in safety personnel is support for people working in confined spaces. “These are called ‘hole watchers’ in the industry, but I think we will have to create a more suitable name for this position,” puns James. “These professionals monitor safety from the surface during underground and confined space work — monitoring levels of gases and gas accumulation, and operating all the support equipment such as air pumps, fans and rescue equipment. This is an important safety role, and may become a profitable proposition for Active First Aid,” says James.
Providing safety solutions for the construction industry requires hands on training and education of the safety professionals, and constant attention to surroundings and happenings on the site; saving a life may be as simple as a reminder to wear a safety hat. Wherever her employees are, James makes sure that they are fully trained and always able to look out for the safety liabilities on any job site.