Stretched thin

Red Deer Emergency Services fire-medics were caught in a rare double major emergency situation on Thursday afternoon that resulted in a reduced response time for complete coverage of one of the events.

Red Deer Emergency Services fire-medics were caught in a rare double major emergency situation on Thursday afternoon that resulted in a reduced response time for complete coverage of one of the events.

A Hwy 2 rollover near the Hwy 11A overpass was followed nine minutes later by a structure fire at a 76th Street mobile home park.

The incidents both happened in the city’s north end.

The rollover emptied the Johnstone Park fire station because a person was trapped and required four officers, who had to cut the roof off the vehicle to free the driver, said Deputy Chief Bart Rowland.

Two other officers from the 67th Street station were also required for the rollover to aid the trapped and injured motorist.

“We had two major incidents just nine minutes apart,” Rowland said.

The 67th Street station responded to the mobile home with the two personnel remaining. They were on scene in about five minutes. They were eventually joined by personnel from another part of the city.

“Because it was so close together, we didn’t have time to relocate crews from the south or north end of the city,” Rowland said.

He also said emergency officials didn’t even have time to call in off-duty personnel to cover.

Rowland said when a situation develops on the highway, extra officers aren’t called in until the incident commander provides an update.

“We have to make decisions based on knowledge, not just on every time we send someone out on the highway.”

Rowland said it’s difficult to remember a similar incident when two major events occurred in the same section of the city within minutes of one another.

It might happen once a year, he said.

Fortunately, the fire under the mobile home was fought by residents with a garden hose.

The home filled with smoke but there was little damage to the inside. A woman and a pet exited the home safely.

Rowland said the city is in the process of hiring 40 new recruits and so far has about 10, who are in training.

The city looks to hire people with paramedic qualifications and will train them as firefighters.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com