Medical assists and medical first responses represent roughly half the call volume as Sundre firefighters continue frequently responding as medics
SUNDRE – Local firefighters continue to frequently find themselves responding as medics.
In 2023, the Sundre Fire Department responded to a total of 348 calls, council heard on Monday, Jan. 22 during a departmental report.
Out of that total, there were 99 medical first responses as well as 78 medical assists, according to statistics compiled into a report by Chief Ross Clews.
Medical first response generally refers to firefighters who arrive on a scene of an emergency before paramedics, while calls for medical assist more typically involve firefighters being deployed to lend a hand to EMS crews that are on-scene.
The only other calls that came close in terms of volume were: motor vehicle collisions, 48; rubbish or grass fires that did not cause loss of property, 27; as well as alarms mistakenly triggered, 24. There were also three fires and subsequently three fire investigations, as per the report, which is available in full in the meeting’s agenda package that can be found on the town’s website.
As Sundre’s department straddles both the urban and rural worlds, there was also recorded a total of 160 urban responses in town, 165 rural responses in Mountain View County, 19 in Clearwater County and three in the Municipal District of Bighorn.
Among some other highlights brought to council’s attention by Linda Nelson, chief administrative officer, were 21 members who participated in Penthrox training, with 110 subjects covered throughout the year along with 449 session hours.
Penthrox, a brand name for a substance called Methoxyflurane, is an inhaled medication whose primary purpose is to alleviate pain following trauma.
The department also welcomed into its ranks six new members last year, bringing up the total to 26. With a cadet who joined in December, there are 27 firefighters.
Above and beyond their professional duties, members of the department also participated in many community events ranging from Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society’s Charity Check Stop to a staged impaired driving collision response demonstration held in conjunction with the Neighbour’s Day event put on by the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group.
Expressing appreciation for the members’ commitment to the community, Coun. Jaime Marr also shared a concern about the fact the department has only one swift water rescue boat operator.
“We have one swift water technician operator, but we have 12 swift water responders,” said Nelson.
Mayor Richard Warnock noted the number of medical first response calls the department dealt with last year, a trend which has been ongoing for years.
“The thing that keeps coming up in the community is trying to support EMS and where we go from there,” said Warnock, asking if anything was being done from either the fire chief or administration’s desks to advocate on their behalf with the provincial government.
“That has been an ongoing conversation,” said Nelson. “But I actually feel it probably should take place more at a political level, than at a staff level.”