Rick Weisler, President, Waterloo Regional REACT
Rick Weisler has worked at Polaris Transport for five years. He’s the Terminal Manager, overseeing dispatch. This isn’t Rick’s only full-time commitment. For the past 15 years, he’s been involved with REACT—Radio Emergency Associated Communication Teams. He’s the president of the Waterloo Regional chapter of REACT.
REACT is a global organization, founded in 1962. Teams tune in to channel 9 on CB radio, ready to respond to a multitude of emergency situations…from medical emergencies like heart attacks to traffic collisions. REACT team members often get there before paramedics can, keeping people on the scene comfortable and stable until medical professionals arrive.
Rick’s REACT team is specialized—the Waterloo division is tuned into the same radio frequency as the regional police and emergency services. “We have the capability to talk to fire departments and police departments and assist them…whether we’re doing traffic direction or point duties at special events like parades,” said Rick. The Waterloo REACT team is also equipped to help out in missing-persons situations and traffic investigations.
Rick got involved with REACT about 15 years ago. “It was actually a very sad scene—a young boy got caught in a dam and passed while he was trapped down there. Then, one of the officers on the diver team passed while trying to recover the body.” Rick was managing a courier service that delivered food, at the time. He got a call from the Red Cross to help get some meals to the recovery team. While he was on the scene, ensuring everyone got fed, Rick met the president of a REACT team; it was then he decided to get involved.
“The time commitment is 24/7,” he says. “There have been many days when I’ve come to work from a traffic investigation in my REACT uniform, changed here at the office and worked a full day.” Many REACT members are First Aid-certified, although it isn’t a requirement. The organization is 100% volunteer-based, with Rick’s chapter clocking in at 3000 hours last year alone.
Being part of REACT makes Rick more aware of the importance of good safely procedures everywhere—at his workplace, especially. “Safety at Polaris is good. I’ve been working to ensure employees are safe at all times. We just purchased an AED [a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias] and I oversaw the First Aid training of twelve Polaris employees two months ago.”
Rick says one of the most rewarding experiences since becoming involved with REACT happened at this year’s Maple Syrup Festival. He ran into a father and son he had helped last year at the Cambridge Santa Claus Parade. The son had fallen off a float, breaking his arm. Rick was there to keep the boy calm and comfortable until paramedics arrived. “He asked if I remembered him and then thanked me for fixing his arm,” said Rick.
Without his experience with REACT, Rick says he wouldn’t have known how to respond in that situation. Now, he helps provide valuable response services at countless emergencies each year.
For more information about the Waterloo Regional REACT, visit www.wrreact.com