February 25th, 2024

Cypress Fire focusing on core skills for 2024

By ANNA SMITH Local Journalism Initiative on February 7, 2024.

A Cypress County Emergency Response vehicle sits next to an RCAF plane on the day of a training exercise.--SUBMITTED PHOTO

asmith@medicinehatnews.com

Emergency services co-ordinator Jason Linton is looking to the past for answers on how to better approach responses in the future.

The report made to Cypress County council on Tuesday covered from 2020-2023, collecting information that Linton notes in some cases had not been previously recorded.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve gathered more and more information,” said Linton. “So we thought of presenting it and we want to go back to looking at our history to see what we need to prioritize in the future.”

Overwhelmingly in 2023, Cypress Fire and Rescue responded to largely medical first response calls, with 141 calls made, with motor vehicle collision and wildland fire following behind at 57 and 36, respectively. Outside of largely being located within the hamlets, Linton adds it can be hard to plan for medical calls.

The majority of calls also come from the Dunmore response zone, with 161 made, followed by Seven Persons, Box Springs, and Elkwater. These numbers, said Linton, only reflect primary calls, not instances where the station may be pulled as a secondary station to bolster response numbers.

The report further breaks down the individual response times, from the moment of the call to when teams are leaving the station, as well as time to the first vehicle on scene. Linton notes this information has previously not been recorded by emergency services.

Response times in the county are variable due to the nature of the volunteer stations, said Linton, as firefighters may live and work further from the station in some areas.

“Dunmore during the daytime, if it’s a major call, then myself and the deputy chief, we’ll both go so we have a pretty fast response in about 30 seconds, which brings down their response time,” said Linton. “And in Irvine, their first truck is a two-seater track, and usually only the two members respond; both live within town. One member runs to the fire hall from his business.”

Dunmore’s time to first unit on scene averages 18 minutes, whereas in Walsh, which has the longest response time and no members living within the hamlet, time averages just under half an hour. This is still within parameters, and is simply due to the distance needed to travel to the station and back out.

This year, said Linton, they aim to focus on heading “back to the basics,” maintaining and continuing to build a strong base of core firefighting skills through training and improving fire scene command for a continued regional approach to fire and emergency response.

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