The Situation Room – A salute to first responders, who risk and serve for all of us

Mac Olsen

This week is National Fire Prevention Week, with lessons and tips about how to prepare, and deal with, fire and other hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Look on Page 8 of this week’s Express for a photo of the members of Smoky River Fire and Rescue, as well as some information about fire escape planning. Also, watch for a story in the Oct. 18 edition of the Express, about training that they conducted in Girouxville recently.

Our region and its small communities depend on volunteer firefighters, of course. They protect us and come to the rescue 24/7.

Many are employed, and when the 911 call goes out, many will stop their work to answer the call. Even those who are are retired still offer their service as volunteer firefighters.

We also have to factor in the amount of training they put in throughout the year, often giving up family or recreation time to train up for different scenarios they could face.

When I worked for the Thompson Citizen in Thompson, Manitoba, about 13 years ago, I had the opportunity to wear all the firefighter equipment, including the oxygen tank and mask. I remember how hot and heavy that equipment was to deal with.

It was only for one evening, but it gave me an appreciation of the difficulties that firefighters have to deal with when they answer a call for service.

While I’m highlighting the firefighters, we must not forget the other first responders – the paramedics and law enforcement – who also answer the call for emergency service.

The paramedics have to deal with crisis situations on a daily basis, including severe injuries at motor vehicle collisions. Their job doesn’t necessarily stop with stabilizing a patient at the scene; it might entail a struggle to keep the patient alive on the way to the hospital.

And while I’m on the subject, everyone should take a basic first aid course, which includes training in the Automated External Defibrillator, in case they have to deal with trauma and triage situations at the scene of a fire or a motor vehicle collision.

I took it at Northern Lakes College in High Prairie last year as part of my application to become a foster parent. But I truly appreciate now the importance of having it for emergency situations, having had to utilitze it during an emergency situation in Peace River just days after completing it.

Law enforcement also deserves recognition for its service. All first responders have to deal with the fact that they may not return home at the end of the day.

This is especially the case with law enforcement. We only have to look at the terrorist incident in Edmonton on October 1.

The terrorist crashed his vehicle into the officer’s vehicle, then he stabbed him. Later, the Edmonton Police Service pursued and arrested the terrorist in a U-Haul vehicle. However, the terrorist also stabbed several people before being apprehended.

So kudos to law enforcement – and all other fire responders – for their service to protect us.

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