By Rob Evans
Aug. 1, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - Normalcy. Is there really anything normal about our jobs?
By Rob Evans
Aug. 1, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Normalcy. Is there really anything normal about our jobs?
Normal for Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) in the month of July includes the annual Bragg Creek Days and the annual Tsuu T’ina Nation Rodeo and Powwow the following week. After the flooding in June, our members at RMES were looking forward to the normal, albeit busy, month of July.
Bragg Creek Days is a celebration held annually in the hamlet south of our fire hall, and our crews have been providing the pancake breakfast for the past 20 years. The community has always come out to support our firefighters association breakfast that has been used as a fund-raising event. This year was different, though. The community is still in recovery mode from the flooding and the members thought it was time we were there for our friends and neighbours – not just when they call 911, but to help them rebuild what was lost. So, the proceeds from this year’s breakfast went directly into a flood-recovery fund. We were proud to present the fund’s organizer with a cheque for more than $2,100.
As always, after the breakfast, RMES trucks led the parade. This year, I was able to drive the rescue vehicle and had a close friend from a local Calgary morning show ride along with me; she could not believe the response we got from the crowd – waving, clapping, cheering and crying welcomed us along the way. This year, the signs on the sides of the truck said, “Thank you Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows”. Without the community supporting us in the past, RMES personnel would never have been able to respond to the flood emergency the way that we did during that week in June. (You can see my account of the flood here, in the August issue of Fire Fighting in Canada.)
And just this past weekend another part of our community, the Tsuu T'ina First Nation, held its annual celebration with the rodeo and powwow. The population at the rodeo grounds across the highway from Redwood Meadows easily increases from about 12 individuals living in permanent homes, to 6,000 campers in everything from trailers to teepees. It is a very challenging situation to monitor, considering that we have no jurisdiction when it comes to any type of code enforcement. We provide only suppression and rescue services to the Nation. We always prepare for the increase in potential customers by doubling our crews over the rodeo weekend. RMES had two crews of six firefighters who were ready to respond from Friday morning through Sunday night. They responded to a total of 12 calls, which included everything from burning complaints to a serious traumatic injury of a bull rider who may have broken his neck. I was not on duty for any of the weekend; instead I spent time parenting and went over to photograph some of the rodeo.
Overall, the month of July was a great return to normal for RMES. Bragg Creek Days, while quieter than past years, was a success, and the rodeo and powwow had great attendance, as always. And with just 52 calls for service to RMES during July, it was actually a little bit slower than normal. But our crews will take it.
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.