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A Flood in the Life of Emergency Services

> Floods Wrap-Up

Residents of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows owe a huge debt of gratitude to Redwood Meadows Emergency Services. As our volunteer fire department, they do us an important service throughout the year, but during this flood, they went far beyond their usual essential service to offer what was an invaluable service.

George Low responded to my request for information about what it was like for him. This is his story:

Our members worked continuously from midday Friday until about midnight Saturday.

We took a break until 6 am Sunday, and then worked until 11 pm. We had crews working again all day Monday and today (Tuesday)

During that time we responded to 158 requests for help.

Of these, three were for motor vehicle accidents, three for fires (2 house and 1 vehicle) two were for medical emergencies, and one was a hazardous materials emergency. All of the rest were related to the flooding. Many involved managing utilities (ie shutting off electrical or gas services which were submerged) and a great many were for pumping out basements.

In the first hours, we were only able to pump basements to prevent floodwaters from submerging electrical panels, etc. On Saturday , Alberta Sustainable Resources Development loaned us 20 pumps and some personnel to assist with deploying them. These people and equipment are normally employed fighting forest fires. With the precipitation we've seen lately, they were not needed for that task. They did (and continue to do) a formidable job assisting our members. In addition several volunteer firefighters from Rocky View (Langdon and Springbank) offered their services, as well as a few civilian volunteers. In fact two citizens loaned us vehicles to assist with distributing pumps.

With these pumps and extra personnel, we were able to help a great many more people.

In addition, the County of Rocky View did a great job in manning a Command Post in Bragg Creek, and coordinating the efforts to ensure residents' safety.

We were not involved with the evacuation centre, although we did assist County Rocky View with notifying Wintergreen residents of the voluntary evacuation. From our experience, most people elected to stay home, although some stayed with friends in Calgary. I believe a few used the evacuation centre.

From my perspective, I believe this incident opened a few peoples' eyes as far as the possibility of being isolated in an emergency due to inadequate accessis concerned. I haven't heard anything official, but I would be astounded if this does not result in another exit road (or maybe two, one from West Bragg and one from the Wintergreen side)

All in all, it was an exhausting few days, but most gratifying to see the community pull together, and to come away with some personal satisfaction from the sense that we may have been able to make some people's lives a little less dismal.

Redwood Meadows Emergency Services is an all-volunteer department. They currently have 30 members. George Low, the author of this article, is a Deputy Chief, and the Chief Training Officer. In addition to serving Redwood Meadows, they provide fire suppression, rescue, and emergency medical first response to a large area within the County of Rocky View. Their response area stretches from Township Road 250 in the north (one road north of the Trans Canada Highway), to Hwy 66 in the south, from halfway to the Calgary city limits in the east (Range Road 33) to Hwy 68 in the west. In addition, they are contracted to provide the same services within the Elbow region of Kananaskis country. They also respond under agreements with the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

For more information, the Redwood Meadows Emergency Services web site is www.rmesfire.org.