by Stephen Dafoe
A full compliment of fire trucks and personnel arrived at Lafarge Canada Inc. in the Heritage Lake Industrial Park at 7 p.m. Jan. 27. A maintenance worker had a cardiac arrest atop one of the cement company’s silos and needed to be brought down for medical treatment. Approximately 25 firefighters arrived quickly, dispatching a pair to rescue the worker in a basket affixed to the bucket of Morinville’s aerial unit.
Fortunately for all concerned, the rescued worker was a mannequin placed there earlier in the day by the department. The evening’s exercise was just that – a joint operation between Lafarge and the Morinville Fire Department.
The scenario was put forth by Lafarge to help the company initiate their Emergency Response Plan. “We’ve taken great pride in this with the industry and the community to not only better ourselves but to help the fire department in their training, as well as a search and rescue operation,” said Lafarge Plant Foreman Robert Hlokoff. “We are committed to our health and safety, wanting to overachieve and make sure we better ourselves as a company as well as personally.”
Morinville Fire Department Training Officer Charles Lavallee said the joint exercise was a success for all concerned. “Our firefighters had a great opportunity to experience a high-angle rescue situation with the Lafarge people, initiating their ERP plan, and having them practise what they would do in the case of a rescue scenario up on top of one of their silos,” Lavallee said. “It gave our guys a chance to practise with our ladder truck and a rescue basket mounted to the front of our ladder truck. It also gave some of our medical personnel a chance to access patients, and control the scene as well.”
Lavallee said the Morinville Fire Department trains once a week on Wednesday nights, and evenings like the Jan. 27 joint operations provide training that is a little out of the ordinary.
“[It]helps keep our firefighters sharp as we are a volunteer fire department,” Lavallee said. “We don’t get an opportunity to have very many live scenarios, so a night like this tonight is as close as you can get to a real call, which helps our firefighters hone their skills.”