June 26, 2012, Alta. – This past week appears to have all been about recognition. None of us goes out looking for accolades from the jobs we do but it is nice to feed the ego once in a while.
It started off with a call with Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) on Father’s Day that involved a young father just wanting to float down the Elbow River and enjoy the peace and quiet of the water. It ended up being a long, drawn-out rescue that took more than four hours to get him safely ashore. Luckily, he had made it to a small sand bar and was not in any immediate danger during the time it took us to get to him with the necessary equipment.
This rescue was the first real test of our new Polaris Ranger 6x6 ATV that was donated to the department by our firefighters’ association. Rough, rugged terrain greeted us as one of my captains, Mike Norman, and I broke trail time after time to try to access the patient from river left. River right access for a rescue would not be in the cards due to high water levels thanks to recent rains and mountain run-off. We eventually found our way down to the patient thanks to the help of a local ranch employee.
The actual rescue only took about five minutes once we got a PFD to the rafter and had him tie off to the dingy. We had him enter a small finger of the river and the momentum from the current brought him back to the shore in a pendulum motion. We then cleaned up our equipment and started back up out of the river valley. The rafter had quite the ride and actually kind of enjoyed being taken out of the area on the ATV. Honestly, back at the hall we talked about how much fun it was using our new tool and putting it through its paces.
The usefulness of the new vehicle was not lost on our partners in the Rocky View County Fire Services, to which we contract out our services, and which benefitted from our response into its county for this call. Thanks were sent to the entire team from RMES by Rocky View District Chief Gary Barnett. Of course, this is what we do, but it is nice to have the recognition and the entire team appreciated that. The next day we received thanks from our rafter and an offer to buy our favorite beverages. And as thirsty as we may have been after spending the afternoon operating along the river, we had to respectfully decline the offer.
The second kudos for a team I was a part of happened later in the week. For those who may not be aware, my paying job is as a senior emergency communications officer with the City of Calgary, dispatching fire and EMS and answering the odd 911 call. On Thursday, the city handed out its star of excellence awards for city employees at Calgary’s Heritage Park. More than 1,500 fellow employees attended the show that fed attendees and handed out awards to those who best exemplify the 7 Cs of success: competence, change, catalyst, creativity, cost effectiveness, customer service, collaboration and caring. The shared response of different business units from the city won the award in the caring category for the response to the Slave Lake wildfire. Members from CAN-TF2, Calgary Fire Department, Calgary Emergency Management Agency and public safety communications all shared the award.
I am very proud to be a part of the team that responded to Slave Lake after wildfires tore through the northern-Alberta town, but, like everyone who attended, I didn’t do it for rewards. That being said, it is nice to be recognized for the work that was done, and what firefighter and his ego can turn down free food?
Rob Evans is the fire chief for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services, 25 kilometres west of Calgary. Evans attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1989 and studied photojournalism. In 1992, he joined RMES after taking pictures of an interface fire and making prints for the department. He has his NFPA 1001 level II certification, NFPA 472 Operations and Awareness (hazmat), NFPA 1041 level I (fire service instructor), Dalhousie University Certificate in Fire Service Leadership and Certificate in Fire Service Administration and is a registered Emergency Medical Responder with the Alberta College of Paramedics. He lives in Redwood Meadows with his wife, a firefighter/EMT with RMES, and three children.
Written by LK on 2012-06-27 22:35:48
It is nice to have the toys to perform your job in a safe and efficient manner. I chose “toys” to emphasize that those on the outside looking in may not understand why it is necessary for you to have some pieces of equipment and why this equipment is essential to the services you deliver.
The Polaris Ranger 6x6 ATV may be viewed as a toy but the reality is that it is a critical piece of equipment for your department. I wonder how the rescue would have been handled if you did not have this piece of equipment.
Proactive thinking and leadership in your organization saw the need for this 6x6 and it obviously paid off. Well done!
Congrats on the Star of Excellence award. Another well done!