“We’ve been to seven fatalities in the last month,” Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service Fire Chief Alex Pavcek told M.D. of Lesser Slave River council at its October 25, 2023 meeting.

Council was very supportive of the fire service and asked him to pass on their thanks. Pavcek also suggested that that council send their thanks directly.

Later in the meeting, Sandra Rendle, community services coordinator, mentioned that the proposed firefighter appreciation event which had been earmarked for November or December was likely going to be in February, because of difficulty finding caterers.
Council also asked if the fire service was providing mental health support to firefighters after fatalities and other difficult calls.

“Mental health has been a big focus,” said Pavcek. “It’s really become front and centre. We want to be able to do it in house.”
At the moment, LSRFS is getting support from the Edmonton fire service.

LSRFS runs fire halls in Slave Lake, Widewater, Smith, Flatbush, and Mitsue. There are 66 firefighters between these halls. They also have 20 search and rescue volunteers.

The number of calls have increased over the last three years. In 2023, as of Oct. 5 the fire service has responded to 529 calls, up from 392 in 2022 and 385 in 2021. September 2021 had 47 calls, Sept. 2022 had 65, and Sept. 2023 had 66. In Sept. 2023 28 of these were alarms and 18 medical co-response.

This was “a pretty steady run of alarms,” said Pavcek. “We do only send one person to an alarm.”
Usually the duty officer who has volunteered to be on a 24 hour shift and receives an honorarium.

Referring the the number of medical responses, Councillor Nancy Sand said, “the term firefighter isn’t broad enough.”
Council was very concerned about the number of medical responses and is willing to advocate with the government and AHS to get more EMS workers.

“It’s a provincial and national problem,” said Pavcek. “And there’s no quick fix.”

by Pearl Lorentzen

This item copyrighted by   AlbertaChat.com / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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