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September 5, 2014
By Rob Evans

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Sept. 5, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. - Telling people where to go is what I do for a living as a dispatcher for the City of Calgary – call comes in, truck goes out; pretty simple, huh? Well, not so much at the start of the Labour Day long weekend. I did not take the actual call for a friend’s emergency last Friday night. I was on my break when the call for help came in.

Sept. 5, 2014, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Telling people where to go is what I do for a living as a dispatcher for the City of Calgary – call comes in, truck goes out; pretty simple, huh? Well, not so much at the start of the Labour Day long weekend. I did not take the actual call for a friend’s emergency last Friday night. I was on my break when the call for help came in.

As responders, we deal with death a lot. Our skills and training allow us to distance ourselves from this. We’ve all heard the words: "It's not personal." "No matter what you do or don't do, some people die." But there are certain people who, when they are taken from us, we can't help but ask why. Dave Sartorelli is certainly one of those people. Countless paramedics and firefighters in this part of the country learned from Dave, and last Friday night, they put that knowledge to use trying to save him.

The Calgary medics and firefighters were already on scene treating Dave, a long-time Calgary paramedic, when I arrived back at my 911-call-taking desk. All I could do is watch them transport Dave to a hospital and wait for word on his condition.

Right now, the City of Calgary is in a fight to keep its portion of Alberta Health Services dispatch for the city crews. There are arguments about money, processes and technology that I won’t delve in into. There is one thing that has not been talked about though: the relationships built between crews and dispatch. We may not see eye to eye all the time, but there is always a level of respect. I worked with Dave in my roles as a freelance news photographer, first responder and dispatcher. I had the most contact with Dave when I worked with him in dispatch; he never complained and always did what was asked of him. That did not mean he did not question though, and he was always willing to help if he saw something that you may have overlooked.

No longer will we hear Dave’s familiar voice saying he is responding to where we have told him to go. Calgary 8 – you are good for home! We will keep it quiet for you.
8 off at 8, over.

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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