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November 29, 2013
By Rob Evans

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Nov. 29, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – When I was a kid, growing up in southern Ontario, I used to love going to Canada’s Wonderland with family and friends and riding the roller coasters endlessly, in particular, the Mindbuster, with its height and the speed at which the cars would travel around the track. The past month my life, it seems, has been quite the thrill ride, with the ups and downs of a roller coaster.

Nov. 29, 2013, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – When I was a kid, growing up in southern Ontario, I used to love going to Canada’s Wonderland with family and friends and riding the roller coasters endlessly, in particular, the Mindbuster, with its height and the speed at which the cars would travel around the track. The past month my life, it seems, has been quite the thrill ride, with the ups and downs of a roller coaster.

Starting at the end of October my good friend, Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., Fire Chief Vince MacKenzie travelled to Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) along with Abottsford, B.C., Fire Chief Don Beer to teach the Beyond Hoses & Helmets course to a group of us from six different fire departments. Because of this, I was able to spend my birthday with one of my closest friends, which made the weekend even more enjoyable. Of course, the visit was not nearly long enough, but that just gives me a reason to travel east.

It was just three weeks later that I did travel east – although not as far as The Rock – when I attended the Ontario Association of Fire Chief’s (OAFC) mid-term meeting at Niagara Falls. I had been invited to the meeting to address the group and explain how the flooding back in June affected RMES. There were some of those thrill-ride butterflies before speaking in front of peers from another province, and the nervousness was not made any better as I followed another great friend, Comox, B.C., Fire Chief Gord Schriener and his #Stopbad presentation. It was a great time and I learned a lot from the other speakers during the two days. Thank you very much to the OAFC for inviting me and being a great host.

Knocked back to reality quickly upon my return, I immediately settled in for three night shifts in a row back at Public Safety Communications in Calgary. I was ready for a couple of days off when my wife and I came to the realization that we would have to put down one of our family pets. The cat in question was one that I had pulled out of a house fire, not once, but twice, about seven years ago. In total, the resident had three dogs and two cats that we sheltered that night when a mobile home caught fire. A couple of days after the fire, we returned for equipment and found that a couple of bags of food had been torn open and spread through cellulous insulation that was piled on the deck. The animals were frozen and attempts to contact the owner went unanswered. So we took the pets back to the station and adopted them out to firefighters. I guess that’s why it was so hard to take the cat to the vet on Wednesday and watch as she took her last breath.

As much as I did not feel like rushing to do anything, I had to get home and phone into a conference call for the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs fire and life safety committee. There is lots of excitement among committee members as we look to move forward with a new program in the spring, but that is for another blog once everything is finalized. It was nice to have something else fill my mind for a bit.

After the call, I got ready to head to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary for a special presentation. Lesser Slave Lake Fire Chief Jamie Coutts was in the city to award medals of honour to those of us who traveled to the northern Alberta town in May 2011 to help when a wildfire tore through the community. I was fortunate enough to be deployed there as a fire dispatcher. It was nice to enter the room and have Jamie find me to say hello before the presentations began. I am very proud of all team members with whom I received the medal, including fellow dispatchers, firefighters, mechanics, CAN-TF2 members and others. Almost 200 people were awarded the medal during the visit to Calgary by Coutts and former Slave Lake mayor Karina Pillay-Kinee.

Those of you who know me know how much of a very big kid I am. This week I had to play the adult.

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 captain/EMT with RMES, and three children. Follow him on Twitter at @redwoodwoof


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