In June of 2013, Alberta faced devastating flooding that earned the notoriety of being the costliest disaster in Canada at the time, with five billion dollars in damages that would take years to repair. Many of the emergency responders that we work with were directly involved Alberta flood responders. Some found themselves ill-prepared to deal with even the most basic flood related challenges.
We ran a survey to hone in on what would have benefited Alberta flood responders, and after gathering the results we established a Flood Legacy Bursary in an effort to ensure more emergency responders are prepared to deal with moving water situations like river rescues and flood rescues.
The bursary aims to help Alberta flood responders – from smaller, volunteer departments to SAR teams – obtain the right certification to operate safely during swiftwater and flood incidents. Recipients are awarded a free spot in an SRT1 course. Flood waters are considered “swiftwater” by the NFPA, and our SRT1 includes the knowledge and skills needed to deal with flood related incidents.
In 2013, we awarded three bursaries. This year, we have five more bursaries available to be awarded before December 31, 2014. So far, we’ve awarded one of these five to Joss Elford with Exshaw Fire, and his story is below.
Alberta Flood Responder, Joss Elford
“I joined the Exshaw fire department in May 2013, and it didn’t take long to be thrown into action. On the 20th of June at 1:30am my pager went off – some residents of east Exshaw were reporting their basements full of water. When we arrived, we realized the extent of the water and started evacuating.
At first light, the next concerns were the 1a road bridge over Exshaw creek. Exshaw creek was also threatening our fire hall. Lafarge came to the rescue with their large trucks full of huge rocks. My captain assigned me the task of directing the drivers on where to dump their loads.
I was on the bridge for 12 hours while Lafarge trucks ran. During the day, the residents started to come to the creek to look at the raging water. I noticed the danger they put themselves in just to get a close look, and I requested a throw bag or rope in case someone went in. Luckily no workers or residents went in, but looking back if someone had gone in, some training would have kept me safe in a rescue attempt.”
Learn more about the flood legacy bursary (including how to sign up for a reminder to apply!)