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Nov. 20, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity around Redwood Meadows Emergency Services and as a result I have let my blogging slide a bit with what I hope is a noticeable absence. A lot has been going on in my small part of the world as well as in the bigger picture.

November 20, 2012
By Rob Evans

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Nov. 20, 2012, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity around Redwood Meadows Emergency Services and as a result I have let my blogging slide a bit with what I hope is a noticeable absence. A lot has been going on in my small part of the world as well as in the bigger picture.

Certainly, the biggest story has been Hurricane Sandy and the effects that it has had on our brothers and sisters on the eastern seaboard. Thoughts go out to all those affected by the massive storm and the damage it caused. Yet again, this should come as a stark reminder of why it is so important to have our own 72-hour emergency kit ready for our own families. If you do not have one set up, do your family and yourself a favor and get a kit together. It is up to all of us to be leaders in our communities and show our friends and neighbors how emergency preparation is done.

How Hollywood believes it should be, however, is a different story. Yet another primetime soap opera about the fire service can be seen in Chicago Fire. I wasn’t able to choke down the first 10 minutes of the premiere but that was enough to know it would not be a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, for the real Chicago Fire Department, they have had a tragic week with two LODDs. Real life in our world means firefighter injuries and death; men and women without spouses; children without parents. I know the show is meant as entertainment but I think the reality of our universe is lost on the general public. And in Canada this past week, two of Toronto’s bravest lost their battles with cancer. Thoughts also go out to the members of the Toronto Fire Services and their families after a tough week. The department in Brampton, Ont., recently lost a firefighter due to work-related illness and I’m sure, sadly, there have been others. With these deaths in mind, a big thank you has to go out to Winnipeg’s Alex Forrest for the work he has done to bring occupational cancers to the fore in many provinces and around the globe.

Federally, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, has introduced a motion in the House of Commons that, if passed, would see any first responder being disabled or killed in the line-of-duty receive a one-time payment of $300,000. The motion also calls for firefighter safety to become an objective of the National Building Code. Please take the time to read up on M-388 and let your local MPs know if you support the motion.

Support is something I have been a strong believer in at home. And by home, I mean the fire station at Redwood Meadows. And before Laura jumps on me, you know I mean at the house, too. The best way I know to support our firefighters is with top-notch equipment and vehicles. I have always said that if we cannot pay our staff, the least we can do is give them the best to work with. With that in mind we spent the last part of October and the first week in November getting our new Peterbilt/Pierce rescue ready to start responding to emergencies. It finally went into service on Nov. 6 and has already responded to a few calls. The truck is a considerable upgrade from the old, modular ambulance that we had used for the past 14 years. All of our rescue equipment is now on one truck and not scattered throughout the station and two other vehicles.

And while I am working on our budget for next year I have to thank the local town council here in Redwood Meadows. Without their support and vision of not only our small snapshot, but also the bigger picture, our department would not be where it is today. The transparency between the fire department and council certainly has a way of letting them see the calm before the storm. It makes my and our firefighters’ jobs a lot easier when people call for help.

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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