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June 5, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – In a May Reader’s Digest poll, firefighters and emergency medical technicians were listed as the top two trusted professions in Canada. Over the last week, the team at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) has shown how we help with that image.

June 5, 2012
By Rob Evans

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June 5, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – In a May Reader’s Digest poll, firefighters and emergency medical technicians were listed as the top two trusted professions in Canada. Over the last week, the team at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) has shown how we help with that image.

Due to the Townsite of Redwood Meadows being a community on leased First Nation lands, we are set up as more of a community association that operates as a town. The community has an annual general meeting each May that allows us to interact with residents and give small presentations about our different departments.

I knew it was going to be a good night when I received a round of applause as the mayor went through the agenda for the evening. I was the last to speak before the mayor had a more in-depth presentation about lease negotiations with the Tsuu T’ina Nation. Throughout the evening, other presentations seemed to focus on the number of hours they were put in around the town over the past year. The top number of hours was put in by the community association with a total of 1,800, followed by the mayor, who spent 1,000 hours working for the town.

When I made my slides for the night, I wasn’t aware that others would be focusing on the time commitments of their members. On my first slide, in large text, was the number 18,445, equivalent to nine full-time employees! This was the amount of “recorded” hours that our team put into RMES last year. Call outs, weekly training nights, courses, weekend stand-by shifts are what are included in this number. Officer meetings, station and vehicle maintenance, administrative duties – and more – are not included. In 2011, RMES had 36 members on the department. This equates to an average of 512 hours that each of our members put in last year, more than double the requirements of the volunteer tax credit announced by the federal government. The applause from the residents when this was announced was a great ego booster. I only wish that more of our firefighters had been in the room to hear it, too.

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In one of 12 calls responded to by RMES in just the past week, STARS Air Ambulance was called to transport a critically injured motorcyclist after a collision. Unfortunately, the 40-year-old male was pronounced dead on scene. Responders have put more than 90 hours in this past week on call outs.

There were reportedly some concerns about our recent order of a new rescue truck and about how much money has been spent in the past four years on vehicle replacement. I explained to the group that the old truck had served the town well and needed to be replaced for the safety and comfort of our firefighters and EMTs. But I also described how being able to respond with a reliable and bigger truck able to carry all of our rescue equipment was better for the community. This received another audible approval. I then talked about a serious fire at a service station to which we responded in January. The biggest ovation of the night came when it was explained that our volunteer fire department had arrived on scene within 10 minutes and had an initial knock down of the building nine minutes after arriving, without the fire spreading to two very close exposures, including another gas station and large strip mall.

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A bulletin board in the townsite recognizes firefighters after they successfully kept a fire at a local service station from spreading through a major commercial area in nearby Bragg Creek.

I ended the presentation by showing residents pictures I had taken in Slave Lake after wildfires tore through the town last year. We live in a wildland/urban interface community and I explained that it’s up to homeowners to make sure their homes and properties are FireSmart. It was obvious from the reaction of the crowd that RMES is trusted in our community. Being truthful and straightforward with the residents and open to their criticisms, along with the kudos, goes a long way in keeping the profession on the top of the Reader’s Digest polls each year. It feels good knowing that we are doing our part to make that happen.


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.


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