Firefighters approved for trail rescue training
Clearview firefighters will be trained in low angle/slope rescue due to an increase in the number of hikers needing assistance on area trails.
The department saw a large increase in off-road and trail rescues during 2020. The number of incidents jumped from between two and five calls in a typical year, to 20 calls in 2020. This has been mostly attributed to more people enjoying the trail systems due to COVID-19 and a lack of other recreational activities, said Fire Chief Roree Payment. This has prompted a shift to provide crews with an increased level of training in rope rescue. In 2021 crews from Singhampton and select members from Creemore and Nottawa will receive training in low angle and slope rescue.
“Over time and specifically during COVID-19, our trail systems have become much busier and far more frequented than previous years. As a result, the number of incidents on those trails where people have required locating, care, packing and removal have too increased,” reported Payment. “As people become more and more adventurous, the skills and abilities of our department are further tested when it comes to removing injured hikers/ATV’ers/campers/snowshoers etc.”
“In an effort to better protect our firefighters, the injured person(s) and to provide a timelier response, the department has identified moving to low angle/slope rescue as paramount.”
Council approved a proposal to train all 20 members from Station 5 in Singhampton and Station 4 in Creemore. The total cost is about $25,000 for training and equipment.
“In an effort to try to improve the safety of both the responders and those that we are rescuing it was determined that we need to heighten the level of training and the equipment we have to do those retrievals,” Payment told councillors.
Councillor Robert Walker expressed interest in exploring methods for cost recovery from the various agencies but Payment said there is a tendency to pass the bill onto the person being rescued and it has been Clearview’s practice in the past not to do so. Payment said that would be a “slippery slope.”
Due to the low frequency of calls and the risk of high angle rescue, it is felt the department would be best suited for low angle/slope rescue in the near future, he said, and having members trained in this discipline would allow for a timelier response from partner agencies should the call warrant high angle rescue.