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Fort fire department attended 32 medical response calls in 2021

Woodlands County 2021 fire department annual report presented at July 20 meeting
FA Practice 1
In this image posted to Facebook in May, members of the Fort Assiniboine Fire Department practice their forcible entry and tactical ventilation skills during a training exercise. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the four rural fire departments within Woodlands County were able to keep up with their training and the use of in-house instructors helped to keep costs low.

BARRHEAD — Of the four rural fire departments within Woodlands County, the Fort Assiniboine Fire Department was the busiest in 2021 due in large part to a high number of medical response calls, which are attended by the department’s own first response unit. 

These and other statistics were presented as part of the Woodlands County Protective Services’ annual fire department report for 2021, which county councillors reviewed and later accepted for information at their July 20 meeting. 

In his opening preamble to the report, manager of protective services Scott Webb said this past year presented the county and its four rural fire departments — Fort Assiniboine, Goose Lake, Blue Ridge and Anselmo — with many challenges, most of which arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I can confidently say that we have met each one of those challenges head on and as one team. Your Woodlands County Fire Departments have been able to limit impacts on operations throughout the pandemic by being innovative-minded, safety-focused and efficiency-driven,” he said. 

In the 2021 statistics portion of the report, Webb illustrated what type of calls each rural fire department typically responds to. 

Fort Assiniboine was kept hopping throughout 2021 with a total of 32 medical response calls, which are attended by primary care paramedics Ashley Marcellus and Lynn Marcellus. 

Webb noted this response unit is vital for life support as it may take anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a medical emergency within the Fort Assiniboine fire department’s response area. 

Besides Fort Assiniboine, Anselmo also attended two medical response calls in 2021, while Goose Lake went to one. 

Fort Assiniboine was also busy with 17 public service calls, which include helping to find missing persons and some first aid calls. Blue Ridge also responded to four public service calls, while Anselmo attended one. 

Blue Ridge was the busiest in terms of fire calls, responding to 12 throughout the year. Fort Assiniboine was second with eight fire calls, followed by Anselmo with three and Goose Lake with one. 

Anselmo stepped to the forefront on mutual aid calls (i.e. backing up other fire departments attending emergencies), responding to a total of 14. Blue Ridge was second with 14, followed by Goose Lake with 13 and Fort Assiniboine with four. 

Both Blue Ridge and Fort Assiniboine attended six vehicle accident calls throughout the year, while Goose Lake attended one. Blue Ridge contended with two rescue calls, while Fort Assiniboine had one. 

In terms of total response hours, Fort Assiniboine led the pack with 1,624.5, followed by Blue Ridge with 1,051 Goose Lake invested 171 hours into responses, while Goose Lake put in 117. 

Regarding the status of each fire department’s equipment, Webb said Anselmo has a 2003 Freightliner Pumper FL80 that must be replaced in 2023 and a 2001 Fort F550 mini pumper that should have been replaced two years ago. 

“Right now, that pumper is not serviceable, and we can’t use it,” Webb said. 

Fort Assiniboine will also need to replace a 2004 Freightliner Pumper in 2024 and a new tender a couple years later. 

In terms of accomplishments from the past year, Webb said they were able to acquire a $10,000 Pembina Pipeline grant and acquire new self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for all four rural departments that meet the new standards put out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

He said every department was able to carry out training using in-house instructors, which saved costs and cut down on time spent. 

The fire committee, which includes all the fire chiefs and deputy chiefs, was able to establish a set of Standard Operating Guidelines for the entire county. 

Webb added that each department was able to maintain a high décor within their communities by participating in community events. 

“I can’t say enough about each of the departments and their communities. If there’s a function, they will open up their hall, they bring the trucks out and they participate. They’re diehard community members, which is amazing.”