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Red Deer Emergency Services sends ambulances to support people affected by wildfires

Red Deer Emergency Services sent three ambulances to Drayton Valley on Friday to assist with the evacuation of the town’s hospital.

Red Deer Emergency Services sent three ambulances to Drayton Valley on Friday to assist with the evacuation of the town’s hospital.

“At about noon there was a decision to evacuate that hospital,” explained Tyler Pelke, RDES acting chief.

“Initially we sent four units, but one of them ended up having to be diverted, so at the end of the day three units went to Drayton Valley and helped bring patients back to a couple of locations, including Red Deer.”

An evacuation was ordered Thursday night for Drayton Valley, which is a town of about 7,000 people located roughly 140 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Pelke noted ambulances were diverted into Red Deer to support the local area after the RDES units went to Drayton Valley.

There have been no requests for RDES to provide fire response at this point.

In addition to Drayton Valley, evacuation orders have been issued in Yellowhead County, the Town of Edson and other rural areas in the province.

An evacuation alert was issued Friday for people west of Beaverdam Provincial Recreation Area and east of the Bighorn Dam, which is an area that includes Nordegg.

READ MORE: Evacuation alert issued for Nordegg, Bighorn area due to wildfire

There are more than 100 active wildfires throughout the province, according to a map on Alberta Wildfire’s website.

On Saturday, the Government of Alberta declared a state of emergency in response to the wildfires burning throughout the province.

“Emergency responders are working around the clock to keep people safe and reduce the threat to homes and infrastructure,” the government said in a statement.

“Under the Emergency Management Act, declaring a state of emergency is a legal mechanism that provides the provincial government with a higher level of intergovernmental coordination, around the clock monitoring of the situation, access to emergency discretionary funds, the ability to mobilize additional supports and continue working with municipalities, organizations and businesses to support evacuated residents.”

On Sunday, Alberta Health Services said in a media release that the health and safety of patients remains the public health authority’s top priority.

“While this has been an extremely challenging situation, the evacuations have gone well thanks to the cooperation of those having to move and the hard work of our staff, physicians, and supporting agencies. All zones are actively working around the clock to ensure patients and residents are safely cared for in temporary locations,” AHS said.

AHS sites that have been evacuated and closed due to wildfires are the Drayton Valley Hospital and Care Centre, Edson Healthcare Centre, Fox Creek Healthcare Complex and High Prairie Health Complex.

Meanwhile, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley expressed concern and sympathy to the Alberta families forced to flee from their homes.

“To all of those impacted, I want to say this: Alberta has your back. Across the province, regular Albertans are stepping up, opening their homes and their hearts,” said Notley.

“In the coming days, I know we will see an outpouring of generosity and support as the province pulls together to stand strong, to support one another, and to make sure our children and our seniors are cared for. We will help you get through this because that is who we are as Albertans.”

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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