By Rob Evans
June 30, 2015, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – It’s summertime! What a great time to take four weeks off and enjoy the sun and fun for the entire month of July. Even better, what a great time to take off and help service the community with the two-call-a-day average that Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) has during the summer.
Nine days ago, I was looking forward to the week of holidays – a total of 12 days away from Public Safety Communications (PSC) in Calgary that I was going to get during the first part of July. That first week of the month is Stampede week and I was excited about getting out, taking pictures, enjoying a night with Blue Rodeo and my wife Jennifer.
Well, most of that changed a week ago on Tuesday, June 23. That day I suffered a STEMI; that acronym stands for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction – a heart attack. I recognized what was happening almost immediately and that, the doctors said, saved my life. Good thing. I have a lot to stick around to see. One of those things was my son’s high school graduation last Saturday. Thankfully I am pretty strong, except for that 90 per cent blockage in one artery, and I was able to bounce back and get out of the hospital the day before the ceremony.
Since coming home, I have learned that I was on the go way more than I likely should have been. I was told to limit my activities and when I felt tired, cut back, which I have had to do more than I thought. But even when I was in hospital I felt the responsibility to others. I emailed CAFC executive director JP Cody-Cox less than 12 hours after my angioplasty to let him know that I was not going to be able to continue as the editorial committee chair for the time being. Fire Fighting in Canada editor Laura King got an email about my Friday deadline being shot. Others received emails as well. Not physically demanding, but I had to make sure people who were counting on me were informed about what was going on.
This speaks to the responsibility I think many of us feel, regardless of our rank. It is not about us, it is about the people, businesses, governments that we serve. Well, as I’ve learned, it has to be about us too. We all need to step back and recognize when enough is enough and that we may have to say no once in a while. We do not need to be jerks about it, just need to know when it is better for those we serve to limit the directions in which we are being pulled.
My experience in the last week has also reinforced just how special the families are that I am truly fortunate enough to be a part of – from the people at Public Safety Communications with whom I spend more time than my family, to the great police, fire, EMS and media families that I have – thank you. Each and every one of you means the world to me. And to Calgary fire department’s acting deputy chief – please do not take this the wrong way, but, Ken, I do not want to wake up staring at you ever again. Thanks for being there though. I also have to say thanks to someone I consider one of my best friends – Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., Fire Chief Vince MacKenzie: your texts and thoughts during your daughter’s own high school grad meant a lot.
Since the title of my blog is Size-up, I encourage all of you to look at your health and complete a serious, thorough, well-rounded personal size-up. I had taken a look inwards last fall and made initial steps to improving my own situation; maybe too little, too late even though I had started to lose some weight. Or maybe, last week’s attack would have been that much worse. Regardless, we need to get healthy folks. We do no good trying to serving people from a hospital bed, or worse.
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