Donated Building Gets Good Use

Hornby Island Fire Rescue-6Donated buildings or “acquired structures” are a mixed blessing. On one hand they provide excellent experience and on the other, they are a tonne of work to make them safe enough to use for practice. Many departments don’t use them anymore, preferring to use concrete training structures. Here on Hornby, we have no such structure and are remote enough that getting to an off island facility is often impractical.

Hornby Island Fire Rescue-21After ensuring that the building is safe, we start with a few weeks of practices using theatrical smoke to work on our search and rapid attack skills. Once everyone is familiar with the structure, and we have our apparatus and hose deployment honed, we do several practices where we light and extinguish small fires in the building.

The week before we are scheduled to burn it down we run a few evolutions of attacking a fairly large fire to simulate a “room and contents” fire. It is in those evolutions that we can really exercise our attack skills.

The weekend that we burn the building to the ground is the one that the public notices but is the least useful practice of the months of use that we have gotten out of the structure.Hornby Island Fire Rescue-17

Thanks to Don Peterson for the photos and to Bill and Jae at the Four Corners property for donating this cabin to us.

Abandoned 911 Calls

The recent line of duty shooting of Lac-Simon police member Officer Thierry Leroux is a tragic event. HIFR sends condolences to his family, friends, and co-workers. While not an abandoned 911 call, it does highlight some of the dangers of walking into a domestic disturbance situation.

Here on Hornby Island, especially during the non-summer months, we have a very limited police presence. As a result, HIFR is occasionally called out to investigate abandoned 911 calls. If a 911 caller hangs up before the dispatcher feels that the situation is resolved, someone must attend the scene to ensure everyone is OK. Normally that is the job of the police, but since they are two hours away we sometimes get the call to “have a look”.

The RCMP tries to vet the call so that if there is an obvious threat they won’t put us in harm’s way, but it can be very hard to tell with just a hangup on the other end. Is the caller in the middle of a heart attack and unable to speak? Was the caller cleaning the phone and accidentally hit the 911 speed dial? Or is there a domestic disturbance and the caller was unable to get a message across?

It is an agonizing decision for the HIFR Duty Officer to refuse to attend the scene knowing that they could be putting themselves and the rest of the crew in peril but also knowing that a fellow islander could be in trouble. We have the right to refuse to attend these calls and sometimes make the decision to do so.

If you should accidentally make a 911 call, please do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher what has happened. You will save several people a great deal of time and stress.

Search and Rescue Operation

Yesterday evening at 8:40PM HIFR was alerted to the possibility that Jordan McKenzie had gone missing. After our duty officer gathered some initial information and alerted the RCMP, we did a general page to activate our members. We sent several crews out to the most likely locations, which were the trails near his home and the coastline near Phipps Point. At about 10:45PM one of our crews found Jordan between Phipps point and Collishaw point. He was deceased.

The RCMP were notified and arrived at approximately 2AM with the coroner. After examining the scene HIFR took Jordan’s body off of the shoreline using our basket stretcher and we ended our involvement at 6AM.

We are extremely saddened at this event. We all knew Jordan and many of us were close friends. Our hearts go out to his family and friends in the community.

For more information you can contact the RCMP or the BC Coroners Service.

End of summer callout

Just before 4:oopm on Labour Day, we received a call for a mountain bike accident on No Horses trail near Strachan Road. Fortunately our recent locum, Doctor Nick Bartell was also on the trail and came on scene and provided initial care while alerting 911 and the nature of the injuries. We arrived and after ‘packaging’ for spinal immobilization we transported the patient to the landing strip and the waiting BCAS medical crew and helicopter.

We get 4 or 5 such helicopter evacuations each year and Gregg happened to spot a good photo on this occasion: