Hornby and Denman in Joint Rescue

On April 3 at about 1500 Denman Island Fire Department received a page to assist BC Ambulance in rescuing a patient from Boyle Point Park. As the call progressed it was becoming obvious that it was not a simple wildland extrication. The patient was at the bottom of a cliff on a particularly rugged piece of coastline.

Denman Fire had begun to lower one of their members down the cliff while several others made their way along the coastline. Hornby Island Fire Rescue offered our assistance in the form of a boat to extricate the patient and Denman accepted that offer. Two members of HIFR left Ford Cove Marina at 1600 and arrived at the scene on Denman at approximately 1610.

Deputy Chinnery and firefighter Alan Friesen of DIVFD arrived at the patient’s side at the same time. The two were able to assess her injuries and get her aboard Captain Zielinski’s boat. DIVFD’s Deputy, Rob Manering, arrived on scene and also came on board to assist with patient transport. We were met at Gravelly Bay by BC Ambulance who took charge of the patient.

HIFR would like to congratulate DIVFD on a successful and well run incident. It was a pleasure working with them and we look forward to the next chance to work together.

HIFR Helps with Clinic Move

Congratulations to the New Clinic Committee and the Hornby Island community in general. Funded by the community, and built almost exclusively using volunteer labour, there is a beautiful new medical clinic for the island.

HIFR is proud to have played a part in this project by doing some remedial floor support work and then again on Saturday by helping the move. Doug, John, Embers, Sheree, and Julian gave up a few hours to finish the move of some cabinets, desks, and other furniture.

Cadet Camp 2011 Wraps Up

This year’s Cadet Camp was a great success with sunny, warm weather and fun, interested participants.

On Wednesday morning the cadets cut apart a car with our hydraulic tools, learned how to escape a burning building, navigated a maze filled with theatrical smoke, and experimented with fire behaviour. After a great lunch of homemade pasta with cheese sauce and salad we took the trucks to the school parking lot. There they learned how to use a hose line and sprayed a lot of water and foam.

Thursday morning was spent learning first aid skills by patching each other up according to a “wheel of fortune of injuries”, and learning the ins and outs of the 911 system. We were able to do an actual 911 call to fire dispatch to watch the system work from calling 911 to when our pagers go off. Lunch was chili with home baked bread followed by ice cream sundaes. The afternoon was spent extinguishing both oil fires and wood fires using a variety of extinguishers.

To cap it all off, the cadets returned to the firehall with their parents later in the evening for a firefighter challenge. It was a great opportunity to show off their newly learned skills. They went through a course involving finding their way out of a smoky maze, rescuing a baby along the way. They then dragged a charged hoseline 50′ and had to knock over a traffic cone with the hosestream. They completed the circuit by dragging a dummy 50′ back to the starting point.

Once everyone had completed the course we all retired upstairs for desserts, certificates, and a few special awards. Big thanks to all the kids who participated. You make it all worth it.

Extra thanks to all the firefighters who took time off of work, or who simply gave p a day or two of their lives to make this successful. Extra special thanks to Rachelle, Theresa, and Jules who aren’t even on the department, but who worked tirelessly to make such fabulous food for all of us.

See you all next year!

New Firehall Update

The existing firehall is in danger of collapsing in the event of an earthquake. If disaster were to hit this area, it would be very important that we would be able to access the emergency vehicles instead of having to excavate them from the rubble. We also need more space for another truck and, due to the topography of the land, there is very little space to expand the truck bays.

After several engineering reports and reviews of the needs of the fire department were completed the CVRD had determined that a new fire hall was the preferable solution. A chunk of land across the road from the existing fire hall was identified as a suitable location and the process was set in motion to acquire this land. First Nations were consulted and the Integrated Land Management Bureau was involved. After 2 years of bureaucracy early this year we got the approval to use that land.

The plot of land is now staked out and flagged. If anyone wants to take a look it’s right across the road from our current fire hall.

The next steps are the budgeting process and the design. The CVRD has come up with a plan that will pay for the new fire hall by increasing property taxes by $.15 per $1000 of accessment. That will shake out to a $75 increase for a $500,000 property.

For the engineering reports, the budget documents, minutes from the committee meetings, and other documents relating to the new fire hall project Click here.

HIFR Participates in Multi Agency Exercise

Hornby Island Fire Rescue sent Deputy Chief, Doug Chinnery, to participate in a large exercise that took place in Oyster River. The operation was to simulate a wildfire that was approaching a rural subdivision. Several area fire departments took part as well as the RCMP, BC Ambulance, Emergency Social Services, BC Department of Forests, 19 Wing CFB  Comox, and Comox Valley Search and Rescue. The fire departments’ involvement was a 1 day classroom and practical training session on Saturday followed by more classroom time on Sunday morning before the actual exercise on Sunday afternoon.

This weekend was of particular interest to HIFR as Hornby Island falls entirely into the wildland urban interface zone and we are at least 2 hours away from any outside help. If there was ever a wildland fire on Hornby, the fire department would be on our own in managing property protection for quite a while.

It was a very well run course and the exercise itself provided much additional insight into how to better protect the Hornby residents and their property from wildland fires.  Thanks to Niels Holbek, Chief of Oyster River Fire Rescue for his invitation and his hospitality.

Multi Casualty Practice

At last night’s practice Duncan and Julian completely outdid themselves. They organized a school bus, a dozen or more volunteers from the community, props, makeup, and a smoke machine to build a very realistic scenario.

We arrived on scene to find the school bus billowing smoke, and 10 – 20 people banging on the windows and calling for help. Our triage team boarded the bus and in short order had all of the walking wounded out of the bus and started work on the 5 remaining injured. All 5 of those patients were packaged for their particular injuries and all came out on a spine board. We had the last of the seriously injured patients out of the bus about 70 minutes after we arrived on scene.

A scene like this calls on many skills:

  • There is the obvious medical care component in dealing with injured passengers. Last night we had a cardiac patient, a head injury, a fractured hip, and 2 spinal fractures, along with all the miscellaneous cuts, scraps, and minor breaks.
  • We called on our fire suppression skills with the simulated fire under the hood of the bus.
  • In getting the front of the bus open, we needed to use our extrication tools and know-how.
  • The incident commander needed to call on some extra logistic planning skills to deal with limited resources for so many patients.

It was a challenging practice, but I believe that we rose to it and I was thrilled with how we performed. While there were several things that we would do differently next time around, this practice made all of us feel confident that we are able to handle a situation like this if it were to happen here.

Thanks to Rubin, Zsofine,  Scott, Olivier, Heron, Sascha, Juniper, Nico, Aarron, Gwynna, and Reina for taking an evening out of their lives and helping us hone our skills. Support like this from our community really helps us with our commitment to the department.

We’d like to single out and mention Duncan and Julian for all of the work that they did to set up this practice. Getting the bus, researching ins and outs of triage, all of the phone calls to organize the volunteers, and the time spent setting up the scene demonstrates an enormous dedication to the department and our training program.