Red Deer County rescuers responded to Friday’s tornado

County search and rescue team members were in Kneehill County when they saw tornado in distance

Red Deer County’s technical rescue members unexpectedly found themselves on tornado duty last Friday.

Ric Henderson, assistant county manager and leader of the county’s Technical Rescue Task Force, said eight members were helping RCMP with an evidence search in Kneehill County when the Three Hills tornado hit.

“We had just finished up up about 5 p.m. at the site there and looked off to the northeast and saw the tornado,” he said on Tuesday. “So we headed on our way.

“Just north of Three Hills, we came across a property that had been hit by the tornado.”

The Class F-1 tornado had ripped the roof off a barn and destroyed a motorhome among other damage at the property about five km north of Three Hills.

“So we stopped in and basically did some triage of the property,” he said.

Three Hills Fire Department was alerted and warned about downed power lines.

Team members also helped the property owner, a woman who had injured her arm trying to flee into her basement. Her daughter came and took her to hospital.

The unpredictability of potential disasters is a message that all first responders take to heart.

Coincidentally, on June 29, an exercise is planned that will see the Emergency Co-ordination Centre in Innisfail activated in response to a yet-to-be-revealed Bowden disaster.

Henderson said first responders from the county, Innisfail, Bowden and Sylvan Lake will join forces in an operation dubbed “Operation Good Neighbour.”

Red Deer County and six urban municipalities recently joined forces on an emergency plan.

While communities routinely help each other out in emergencies, the plan formalized the partnership and sets the stage for the kind of joint training happening later this month.

The plan is the result of an effort that began in early 2014 when county council and its counterparts from Sylvan Lake, Delburne, Elnora, Bowden, Innisfail and Penhold agreed to a regional emergency approach.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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