By Greg Price
The M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department is continuing on with its specialized ice-water rescue training, a division of rescue very much needed given the landscape the department deals with in its calls.
The program was started last fall, where it will continue in 2019.
“You can only have so many in a class. We have two certified instructors, one in the north and one in the south, and then we share the equipment back and forth with what we need and off we go,” said Brian Schafer, fire chief of the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department. “That will be again once the ice comes of course. Last year it was either too nice at the beginning, or it was so cold, you didn’t want to go out.”
Having a lot of water in the southern Alberta area with irrigation canals in the summer and some lakes, it is training that very well could save multiple lives down the road.
“It is something we can utilize and teach in-house and save the cost of $300-$500 per person. We are only paying for the textbook and the certificate,” said Schafer. “The training is quite amazing from what you see. As an incident commander, I let the young people do the training and I’m the guy on the shore. The people who go into the suits say ‘wow, I can’t believe the way they float.’ They are so buoyant, it doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t sink yourself. You don’t feel the cold water when you go in apart from your face. It’s pretty regulated for people in the water, equipment used and for the people on the shore in support.”
Schafer confirmed at least one person in every department in the M.D. of Taber, Barnwell, Grassy Lake, Vauxhall, Hays and Enchant has taken ice-water rescue training, and more will come on line in 2019 and 2020 training years.