top of page

Dean Turner

2012 Aurora

Dean Turner practices the lessons he learned from his mother every day. “Mom was the most generous person when it came to love, respect, and inclusivity. She was not materialistic. She was a giver. She was also the neighbourhood psychologist. People would come to talk to her about their issues, and if anything ever happened to her kids she was mom extraordinaire.”

Take the qualities of kindness, respect and inclusivity and add a lengthy career in the military, and as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Canadian Airborne Regiment and a Peace Keeper for the United Nations, and you have a very exceptional individual. All of this life training has coalesced into an organization that works to save lives – F.A.S.T. Rescue.[i]

Growing up in Windsor Ontario, the middle child of eleven children in a 2.5 bedroom house, Dean always knew that he wanted more out of life. “I was pretty independent, and would always be looking for someone to help.” Generosity was also a virtue learned young. “My mom and dad were beautiful, loving people and they loved each other to the day they died. If someone was down and out, needed a place to stay, there was always a place for them to sleep even in a crowded house.” When the family moved to a 3-bedroom house with a basement it was like “living in the Taj Mahal.”

Dean got a job as a labourer/welder at sixteen years old, but when he heard about the boom out west he hitchhiked across Canada to get a job welding on the pipeline. He arrived there only to discover that they were not hiring anyone who was not unionized. Travelling to Vancouver to find work, he ended up broke and on the streets at seventeen. That’s when his entrepreneurial skills kicked in. “I knew I had a talent for music and tried playing harmonica on the streets for spare change, but knew I couldn’t go on that way. That’s when I joined the military.”

Initially Dean was sent to Nova Scotia. By age seventeen he had already been coast to coast in Canada. After basic training was finished he started taking courses. He did very well on his first course and continues his education today, taking University courses in health and safety that build on the significant knowledge he has earned along the way. In all, Dean ended up spending 22 years in the military. He went into the Canadian Airborne Regiment for three years, then to Germany for a few years, and on to Winnipeg where he met his wife Shyamala and got married. He and his wife just celebrated twenty-five years of marriage. He’s also got two beautiful kids and rewarding business.

At what point did Dean know he wanted to do something significant to help others? “When I went to Yugoslavia with the United Nations as a peacekeeper. It was very difficult to see the horrible things that we humans do to each other. It’s worse not to be able to do something to help. That is one of the worst feelings; the helplessness of not being able to get involved. We could only take action if the hostile action was directed at us. It was sad to see the kids, so I would give them candy when they came around.” Part of Dean’s job was to escort convoys that were distributing food and clothing to the refugees through the Red Cross[ii]. When he retired in 1998 he came into contact with the Red Cross again.

After retiring from the military, Dean met up with the Red Cross and found that it was a good fit, a “flexible way of delivering the program.” So he joined the Red Cross as a Community Service Coordinator managing the First Aid Department for the Region of York. He has done that since 1998 and is still there today as a volunteer.

Dean was growing his first aid training business in 2004 when Shyamala wanted to make a career change. F.A.S.T. Rescue was rebranded then, and with Shyamala working beside Dean the business really took off. He now has eleven employees and an organization that trains approximately 7,000 people a year in life saving techniques. F.A.S.T. Rescue is WSIB Recognized and is a partner of the Canadian Red Cross and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Dean and his employees travel across Canada educating people in the “practical skills needed to treat injuries and save lives.” In addition to providing services, F.A.S.T. Rescue offers a variety of products including first aid supplies, emergency supplies, safety and protective equipment and defibrillators. Two studies printed in the New England Journal of Medicine state that “a 74 percent survival rate was achieved among adults who experienced ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest -- if they received defibrillation within three minutes.”[iii]

Dean and F.A.S.T. Rescue have volunteered their people, equipment and skills to a variety of not-for-profit organizations and events, including: Heart & Stroke Big Bike[iv], Canadian Red Cross, and World Conference for Disaster Management.[v] He was also involved with the York Region Food Network[vi] and Homelessness Initiatives[vii], where Dean sat on the Board. In addition, he volunteers his company for Relay-for-Life[viii] and has supported other charitable initiatives that require first responders to attend the event. Proud winner of two awards at the Canadian Red Cross Training Provider Banquet on May 9, 2012[ix], F.A.S.T. Rescue won first place for training the most students in Marine First Aid for 2011 and second place for the most Emergency Medical Responder Training. “We have a great team” says Dean.

Dean is far from finished. “I would love to help a village. If I had the resources and funding my vision would be to help a place that doesn’t have infrastructure; to provide medical supplies; to provide for human needs – water and shelter. I would help build and ensure sustainability. I’m blessed. I want to be able to bring some of what I enjoy to people much less fortunate than we are here in Canada. That’s my ultimate goal.”


bottom of page