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Oct. 31, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Riding the high of a successful firefighters’ ball and the arrival of our new rescue truck, Mother Nature sure has a way of snapping you back to reality. Monday night, Hurricane Sandy made her way inland and absolutely laid a wallop on the eastern seaboard. I really need to say that I hope all of my family, colleagues and friends in the path of this monster storm have kept safe and are doing well.

October 31, 2012
By Rob Evans

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Oct. 31, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Riding the high of a successful firefighters’ ball and the arrival of our new rescue truck, Mother Nature sure has a way of snapping you back to reality. Monday night, Hurricane Sandy made her way inland and absolutely laid a wallop on the eastern seaboard. I really need to say that I hope all of my family, colleagues and friends in the path of this monster storm have kept safe and are doing well.

Fellow blogger Jay Shaw wrote about firefighters teaching their families not only about fire safety and prevention, but also about preparing a 72-hour kit for those times when resources may not be available. Who should your family count on in those times? Nobody. Quite simply, you need to be prepared to help yourself for up to three days during a disaster. As Jay says, first responders cannot abandon our posts when the trouble starts. Because of this, our families need to lead by example in our communities with our own emergency preparedness. Whether it is a Quebec ice storm, a B.C. earthquake or a Manitoba flood, everyone needs to be prepared.

Although not a hurricane, we have a weather phenomenon in this part of Alberta that is called a chinook. Chinooks are characterized by very high winds, often the strength of category one hurricanes. Sometimes exceeding 100 kilometres per hour (kph), chinook winds occur often throughout the year. The last time wind gusts reached speeds of more than 100 kph in the response area of Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) was November 2007. A long night of falling spruce and poplar trees and helping with public hazards associated with those winds ensued. We are coming up to the fifth anniversary of that night but, first, we have to get through Halloween.

Like many communities, Redwood Meadows operates Safe Site areas for kids should they run into trouble. Crews will be out in the town staged at strategic locations, handing out candy and talking to the kids and their parents. Engaging with the public during these types of festivities can pay off in spades when looking for support for issues that may arise throughout the year.

The best part of this Halloween will be showing off the new rescue truck. The worst part will be trying to swap the guys in and out so everyone gets a chance to brag about the addition. In all, it will be a fantastic evening and hopefully, as tradition dictates, it will be a quiet night as well. Quiet, unlike those places being battered by Sandy. It is likely that by the time you read this the storm will be following the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Maritimes. Hopefully Mother Nature will be finished with any lessons she wishes to deliver.

Rob Evans is the chief fire officer 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. Follow him on Twitter at @redwoodwoof.


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