Category: Paramedics/Fire

Emergency response exercise happening Wednesday

Some City of Red Deer facilities will be busier than normal when The City practices its emergency plans as part of an annual emergency response exercise on Wednesday, December 11.

City Hall and the Collicutt Centre will be used as part of the exercise with City Hall serving as the Emergency Operations Centre, and the Collicutt Centre as a mock reception site. It is business as usual for both facilities with all regular facility programs and services happening as scheduled; however, citizens may see City staff and emergency personnel, vehicles and equipment participating in the training scenario.

“We are always practicing and refining our emergency plans and processes to ensure we are prepared for potential emergency situations,” said Karen Mann, Emergency Management Coordinator. “Annual large-scale exercises, like the one on Wednesday, allow our teams to train together, identify areas for improvement and build on existing skills.”

The exercise will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with various staff participating in different ways throughout the day.

More information on The City’s emergency preparedness is online.

(The City of Red Deer)

Ponoka slaughterhouse destroyed by fire

A Ponoka meat business suffered a devastating loss over the weekend as its slaughterhouse was destroyed by fire.

Ponoka County Regional Fire Chief Dennis Jones says crews were dispatched the slaughterhouse belonging to Family Meats Ltd., located on 67 Street in Ponoka, shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday.

“Heavy smoke was observed coming from the vents, and firefighting efforts were difficult because it was an older building that had been added onto and renovated multiple times,” Jones says. “There were multiple ceilings, multiple partitions, and the fuel level was fairly high with the type of product they had in there.”

Jones says 17 firefighters battled the blaze through the night. Crews were on scene until around 6 a.m., and returned later Monday to put out hot spots. The cause of the fire remains unknown, but RCMP says it has been deemed non-suspicious.

No one was injured.

About an hour before the fire broke out, 100 hogs were delivered to the facility. None were caught in the fire and were later shipped to a different slaughterhouse.

Jent Hoekstra, General Manager for Family Meats Ltd., says the fire is devastating, especially just before Christmas.

“It’s safe to say this will be two to three million dollars to replace. It’s like owning a Ferrari without an engine because we have no slaughter capabilities,” says Hoekstra. “We do everything from gate to the plate; we start with growing our own animals right to making the sausages and bacon.”

Hoekstra opened Family Meats in 2011 and stayed on as manager after selling to a B.C. company in October 2018.

AHS to roll out redesigned ambulances

Nearly 420 ambulances across the province are being replaced by Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Mike Plato, EMS Associate Executive Director of Business Standards and Operations Support says this follows an extensive two-year study by the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, the University of Calgary, and dozens of front-line paramedics.

“In the past, ambulance design and configuration would be based largely on preferences of individuals and opinion. This is the first opportunity of its kind to actually use a research study and the evidence from it to inform design, configuration, enhancements, and changes.”

Some of the changes include:

  • Improved overall layout and seat design to encourage seatbelt use
  • Rounded corners on interior surfaces to prevent injuries
  • Adding lips or rounded edges to counters to prevent falling objects
  • Putting most-used tools and equipment in easy reach of the primary caregiver seat
  • Placing garbage and sharps containers in better proximity to the primary seat
  • Additional grab handle added for stability
  • Adding a hydraulic lift for main oxygen tank
  • Additional work surfaces added (drawers, pull-out shelving)

A significant addition, adds Plato, is the addition of a techno-mount securement arm that allows then to secure cardiac monitors directly to the structure above the patient.

“The key piece with that is the significant risk that was identified in the study – a tripping hazard from the cabling and the tubing that was attached to the patient and the cabinetry beside the patient on the wall. Without having to run those cables and tubing from the patient and the wall, we’ve eliminated that tripping hazard for our patients.”

The first ambulances with these design upgrades were introduced five years ago. Since then, AHS reports that on-the-job injuries for EMS staff decreased by 16%.

Some communities use ambulances that are directly from AHS while others contract services out.

Red Deer Emergency Services ambulance service is contracted by Alberta Health Services.

Approximately three-quarters of the provincial fleet will be replaced over time.

“We make these enhancements as we life cycle our fleet every year, so as we buy ambulances, we incorporate the designs and then we replace old ambulances that are beyond their life span with these new ambulances that have these new design enhancements.”

Typically, between 60 and 70 ambulances are replaced with new vehicles every year.

(With file from David Opinko, Lethbridge News Now)

Kids suffer minor injuries as school bus rolls west of Edmonton

Officials say about 35 students were on board when a school bus rolled onto its side in a single-vehicle collision Monday morning west of Edmonton.

According to Stony Plain RCMP, the rollover happened at about 8 a.m. on Forest Drive near Highway 779, an area about six kilometres north of Stony Plain.

The students on board were from the Evergreen Catholic Separate School and Parkland County School Divisions. No serious injuries were reported.

Parkland School Division posted a statement on its website stating the bus involved was serving the Muir Lake School area at the time.

“Paramedics were on the scene moments after it happened to check all the passengers and driver for injuries,” the statement reads.

The school division said all students and driver were “safe, warm and secured quickly after the accident took place while they waited for paramedics to evaluate any injuries.”

Another bus was dispatched to take the students to school once they were assessed by medical staff.

The school division said staff will provide assistance to the students.

“Thankfully no serious injuries,” read a statement on the Evergreen Catholic Schools’ website. “The icy road conditions in a rural subdivision north of Muir Lake School caused the bus to tip over into the ditch. The children are being transported to Muir Lake School.”

Two students killed in California high school shooting

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — A student pulled a gun from his backpack and opened fire at a Southern California high school Thursday, killing two students and wounding three others before shooting himself in the head on his 16th birthday, authorities said.

The attacker was hospitalized in critical condition, officials said, and investigators offered no immediate motive.

The gunfire began around 7:30 a.m. at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita. Authorities estimated that the suspect took just 16 seconds to pull out the weapon, shoot five classmates and turn the gun on himself.

At the time, students were “milling around” and greeting each other in an outdoor quad area, sheriff’s homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said. Surveillance video showed the shooter standing still while “everyone is active around him.”

“He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move,” Wegener said.

The suspect appeared to fire at whoever was in front of him. He had no known connection to those he shot, Wegener said.

Video showed the last thing the assailant did was shoot himself with the final bullet in the .45-calibre handgun, Wegener said. The weapon was empty when it was recovered.

A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died.

Two girls, ages 14 and 15, were each in good condition after being treated for gunshot wounds, according to Patricia Aidem, a spokeswoman for Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

A 14-year-old boy was treated and released from another hospital, authorities said.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the shooter was a student at the school but did not identify him.

The sheriff said a biography on an Instagram account believed to belong to the teen contained the posting: “Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow.”

The message was discovered Thursday morning after the shooting. It was unclear when it was made and by whom, the sheriff said.

It was later removed, and investigators do not know who made the change, Wegener said.

Investigators were searching the suspect’s home. Wegener said the sheriff’s department had not received any recent calls to the boy’s house “that would indicate that there was turmoil” there.

The teen’s father died two years ago. Two years before that, the father had been arrested amid a domestic dispute with the boy’s mother.

Fellow students and a neighbour say he was a Boy Scout who was smart, quiet and gave no indication he would become violent. One girl who knew him for years said he wasn’t bullied and had a girlfriend.

“At this point in time, we have no indication of motivation or ideology,” said Paul Delacourt, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. Santa Clarita is a city of more than 200,000 about 30 miles (48 kilometres) northwest of downtown LA.

The sound of gunfire sent some students running while others and staff followed recently practiced security procedures.

Kyra Stapp, 17, was watching a documentary in class when she heard two gunshots. Panicked students ran in and reported the shooting.

Stapp’s class and others were herded into a teacher break room where they locked the door and turned off the lights.

Kyra texted her mother and tried not make any noise. They exchanged messages as sirens screamed and helicopters and deputies carrying rifles and shotguns swarmed the campus. Then Kyra fell silent while officers escorted students out.

“She’s been texting me and all of a sudden she’s not,” Tracy Stapp said. “That was like the worst 10 minutes of my life, I swear.”

Shauna Orandi, 16, said she was in her Spanish class doing homework when she heard four gunshots that she initially mistook as instruments from a band class. She said a student burst into the room saying he’d seen the gunman, and her classmates were stunned into silence.

“My worst nightmare actually came true,” she said later as she left a nearby park with her father. “This is it. I’m going to die.”

Freshman Rosie Rodriguez said she was walking up the library stairs when she heard noises that sounded like balloons popping. She realized they were gunshots when she saw other students running.

Still carrying a backpack laden with books, she ran across the street to a home, where a person she didn’t know gave shelter to her and about 10 other students.

“I just heard a lot of kids crying. We were scared,” Rodriguez said.

A huge crowd of anxious parents gathered in the park, waiting to be reunited with their children.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to the parents, saying investigators needed to interview the students before they could be released.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami@LASDMurakamiWe need to interview every student at Saugus HS before they can be released to their parents. We need to conduct a thorough investigation. We apologize for the wait
21411:19 AM – Nov 14, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

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Orandi said she has heard about so many school shootings that she always assumed she’d panic. But she stayed calm with the help of her teacher, who locked down the classroom.

Saugus High’s security is provided by one unarmed sheriff’s deputy and nine “campus supervisors” who act as guards, said to Collyn Nielson, chief administrative officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

The campus is surrounded by a fence, and students enter through a limited number of gates each morning. There are a dozen security cameras but no metal detectors.

All district schools hold lockdown drills three times a year, including two in the fall that have already occurred, Nielson said.

“In speaking with staff and hearing reports, students reported they knew what to do and immediately went into lockdown mode,” he said.


Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber, Brian Melley and Justin Pritchard in LA also contributed to this report

Crash on Taylor Drive leads to minor injuries

Only minor injuries were reported following a two-vehicle crash this morning on Taylor Drive in north Red Deer.

Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Karyn Kay says a Kia car rear-ended a Dodge pickup truck while both were travelling northbound, south of 67 Street near the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.

The car caught fire as a result and crews attended to the scene to extinguish it.

Kay says neither of the drivers involved was taken to hospital.

An investigation into the collision is underway but Kay says alcohol and drugs have been ruled out as factors.

Traffic is expected to return to normal shortly.

Alberta ends program for firefighters rappelling from helicopters

The Alberta government is ending a program for firefighters who rappel from helicopters to fight forest fires.

Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen says in a statement that crews have been rappelling into locations in less than two per cent of Alberta wildfires.

Dreeshen says the province will work with the firefighters to place them on other crews if they want next summer.

He says the United Conservative government is putting a priority on two other groups of firefighters who are used more often.

Helitack crews land as close as they can to a fire and hike into it, and Firetack crews are made up of contract workers.

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says the decision to get rid of the rappel unit puts public safety and people’s homes at risk.

“For the last 40 years, incredibly brave and highly trained Albertans have rappelled out of helicopters, sometimes right on top of the fire, and fought the flames that otherwise we could not reach,” she said in a release.

A firefighter, who does not want to be identified because speaking out might affect his career, said rappel crews are better able to get access to remote areas and can split up to tackle multiple small fires burning at the same time.

The firefighter added that the eight-person crews are also helpful in creating helipads in the brush so that more personnel and equipment can be brought in.

“It’s really hamstringing our ability to get that initial action.”

There were about 65 people in the rappel program, which requires members to weigh no more than 180 pounds and go through rigorous training.

Five people sent to hospital after multi-vehicle crash south of Sexsmith

RCMP, EMS and Fire continue to investigate after a multi-vehicle collision blocked both southbound and northbound lanes on Highway 2, north of Highway 672 this morning.

Both lanes were re-opened at around 1:00 p.m.

Sixteen vehicles collided in the southbound lanes of Highway 2 and numerous minor injuries were treated on-site.

A 16-year-old girl was lifted via STARS Air Ambulance in critical condition. Her condition is now stable.

RCMP say while the investigation is still ongoing, heavy fog, weather and road conditions are likely factors. They say speed is also being investigated as a cause.

No charges have been laid so far in this incident.

RCMP are reminding motorists of the changes in weather at this time of year, and to be cautious and slow down while driving in potentially hazardous conditions, as well as to allow themselves more time due to the unpredictability of the weather.


Red Deer apartment owner fined for fire and safety code violations

The owner of an apartment building in Red Deer has been fined $15,000 for violating the Fire Code and the Safety Codes Act.

According to Red Deer Emergency Services, the owner of the building at 5903 55 Avenue failed to ensure the fire alarm system was maintained at all times and inspected and tested annually.

Officials say the owner’s neglect of the fire alarm system left residents of the building at risk for more than eight months before the system was inspected and repaired to working condition.

“A fire alarm system provides early detection in the event of an emergency and gives people time to safely exit a building,” the city says in a media release. “A functioning fire alarm system is extremely important in apartment buildings where people are counting on it to detect smoke and fire and alert them to evacuate before it’s too late.”

The owner pleaded guilty to two offences under the Safety Codes Act and received a fine of $7,500 for each infraction, for a total of $15,000.

The maximum fine under the Safety Codes Act is $100,000 for each offense and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Owners are reminded to maintain their fire protection devices as required. Fire protection devices such as fire alarm and sprinkler systems, special suppression systems in restaurants and portable extinguishers are important life safety devices to protect property, persons, and fire fighters.

Business owners are encouraged to contact the Fire Prevention Bureau ( if they have any questions regarding their responsibilities.

(The City of Red Deer)

Semi rollover shuts down highway near Winfield

Emergency crews are attending to a serious crash involving a rolled over semi-tractor trailer near Winfield in west-central Alberta.

RCMP say the two-vehicle crash north of the intersection of Highway 13 and Highway 20 happened just before 11 a.m. and has led to northbound and southbound traffic in the area being re-routed through the town of Winfield. Traffic on Highway 13 is still getting through the area.

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours. Alternate travel routes are recommended.

Icy road conditions have been a issue in the area, according to police.

“Highway 770 is slick and motorists are having difficulty navigating the hill at Highway 770 and Township Road 502,” Mounties say in a release.