Red Deer Emergency Services Shift D stands ready to answer any urgent calls on Christmas Day at Fire Station 1 in the downtown.

Red Deer Emergency Services Shift D stands ready to answer any urgent calls on Christmas Day at Fire Station 1 in the downtown.

Emergency crews spend Christmas with second family

Not everyone can be at home nestled by the fire with a cup of steaming eggnog, surrounded by friends and family on Christmas Day.

Not everyone can be at home nestled by the fire with a cup of steaming eggnog, surrounded by friends and family on Christmas Day.

For the members of Shift D with Red Deer Emergency Services, working Dec. 25 is a chance to spend the holiday with their second family.

“Christmas is special. We have our families at home but we’re a family here, too, so we put on a big spread.

“The younger, new guys prepare lunch. But we all pitch in,” said Gary Engebretson, assistant platoon chief.

Rookie Parker Douglas was hard at work upstairs in the kitchen at Station 1 in downtown Red Deer on Wednesday morning after the team’s routine workout from 8 to 9 a.m.

He had brought in a handwritten note from his mother detailing how to prepare a turkey, much to the amusement of his fellow crew members.

Dressing, mashed potatoes and all the fancy fixings of a traditional holiday dinner including a counter full of sweets were also to be served around noon, depending on what calls came in.

“It’s been a quite morning,” Engebretson said.

“And it’s generally quiet on Christmas —I’ve been here for 25 years and worked a number of those Christmases — but you just never know how it will go.”

Fellow emergency crew member Lt. Steve Opp has two young children, 7 and 10, making it more difficult to be away.

“We opened a few gifts together this morning and we’ll open some more tonight when I get home. The good thing about working Christmas is it really extends the whole process,” Opp said with a chuckle.

“It’s hard as a parent to head out the door for work when everyone is having a blast and it’s a family day, especially when the kids are younger and opening gifts. We do miss being with our families but we make the best of it, try to have some fun, crack a few laughs,” added Engebretson, whose three children range in ages 16 to 20.

Cpl. Egan Henderson with Red Deer RCMP was working 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Day this year so he celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve with his wife.

He said they try to give members a bit more latitude to slip home in the morning to open presents with their children ­—­ with a radio close by of course.

About a dozen RCMP officers were on shift throughout Wednesday along with two municipal workers and one jail guard, said Henderson.

“It’s been a pretty busy morning, answering calls and attending to complaints,” he said.

After many years working in rural detachments in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, this is one of the many Christmases Henderson has spent in uniform.

He doesn’t mind, though, he said, as he knew it would be occasionally required of him when he began his career with the police force.

“It’s all part of the job.”

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, an iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans. Facebook says it’s going all in to block the spread of bogus vaccine claims. In practice, that means the social network plans to ban a new bunch of false claims in addition to the old bunch of false claims about vaccines or COVID-19 that it has already banned. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Facebook says it will pay $1B over 3 years to news industry

Facebook says it will choose which publishers it will support

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Photo radar cameras are supposed to “augment” the work of regular police officers, yet 91 per cent of speeding tickets in the province are connected to the devices. (Black Press file photo).
March photo radar locations

Photo radar, mobile units and intersection cameras will be in action

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

FILE - The Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The studio is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, announced that the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theaters. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
‘Mission: Impossible 7’ will hit Paramount+ even sooner

90-day theatrical window reduced to 45 days

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Defending champion Einarson stays unbeaten in Tournament of Hearts

Players suggest a spectator-free debut made it less intimidating

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the 17th hole on his way to winning the Canadian Open Championship at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. on Sunday Sept.10, 2000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘The Tiger I know is a survivor and a fighter,’ Bill Paul weighs in on Tiger Woods

Woods was hospitalized after a single-vehicle crash near Los Angeles on Tuesday

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Most Read