Firefighter in training about to enter a simulated crawl space.
Firefighters training to navigate a stairwell with their equipment on. Photos submitted
The County of Vermilion River’s Firefighting Crews were finally able to complete the Basic Skills Orientation course that they began in December of last year. Fifteen students from the County of Vermilion River fire departments of Blackfoot, Clandonald, Dewberry, Marwayne, Kitscoty and Vermilion participated in this vital course that ensures firefighters are comfortable in the gear so they can function in emergent situations and feel safe to complete the task at hand. Compliant with Occupational Health and Safety guidelines, this 40 hour course reinforces several basic skills including proper equipment use, basic search and rescue, and orientation of best safety practices for emergency personnel. Due to the COVID restrictions implemented late last year, the course had to undergo some delivery alterations, resulting in the participants completing a large portion of the course on their own through self-study and virtual learning. They were able to complete the physical component in March.
Cameron Stevenson, Chief Training Officer for the County of Vermilion River’s Protective Services stated that they will be altering this course to accommodate the change in how people are able to learn and interact as groups these days. They will be introducing more virtual group learning to help focus on the practical skills that Protective Service members need to safely serve our communities. There will always be a physical component to the course, as members need to be familiar with the gear they may use on an emergency call, so practice with that equipment is crucial to mastering basic safety skills. According to Stevenson, this week’s lockdown restrictions have not yet impacted the ability to deliver the next round of the course, but could at some point become problematic. As he prepares for the next course, he is taking stricter regulations into effect to hopefully prevent a three month time frame again. Stevenson would like to take this opportunity to thank fellow firefighters Travis Warman from Vermilion and Tim Van Staeden from Blackfoot Fire Departments for assisting him in the training. The Protective Services group would also like to thank the County and Village councils who support them and the department members to take this training to fulfill their duties when the need arises.