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Fire crews kept busy over weekend

On the morning of Jan. 3, the Lacombe Fire Department responded to a single vehicle rollover on the QE II Hwy.
QUICK RESPONSE - A tow truck pulls a vehicle out of the ditch after it rolled on the QEII Hwy. last week. Firefighters extricated the driver who was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

On the morning of Jan. 3, the Lacombe Fire Department responded to a single vehicle rollover on the QE II Hwy. between the north and south exits for Lacombe.

Fire Chief Ed van Delden said it appeared that the driver maneuvered the vehicle, which was traveling southbound, too far to the east edge of the road, catching a windrow of snow and putting the vehicle out of control.

The vehicle came to rest on its roof. After arriving on scene, fire crews were able to extricate the driver from the vehicle by shoveling snow away from the doors which were then able to open.

After being removed from the vehicle, the driver was transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Prior to attending to the scene of the rollover, the Lacombe Fire Department was dispatched to another incident along the QE II Hwy.

van Delden said crews had some difficulty locating that site because of inaccurate directions.

While fire crews eventually learned the location of the initial incident and discovered that their assistance wasn’t needed, such instances of inaccurate or inadequate locations and directions have been frequent of late.

van Delden said this isn’t a problem with dispatch, it’s simply that they are working with limited information from those who initially call 911.

He added the lack of detailed location information is in part due to the prevalence of mobile phones. He said before mobile phones were popular, more calls to 911 came from landlines which give a distinct, exact location.

Of course, mobile phones are much more useful when it comes to getting help immediately, rather than having to run and find a landline.

But, they can cause frustrations for emergency crews and dispatchers when callers cannot provide exact location information.

This is something that happens often, as many who initially report accidents are passersby who aren’t necessarily familiar with the area they are in, officials have said.

However, van Delden said that such incidents are not limited to highway accidents and that dispatch has asked callers within the City limits to more clearly define their whereabouts on occasion as well.

van Delden said that one thing that would help is for callers to utilize the GPS function in their smart phones. He said many phones have this function now but the trouble is that not everyone is familiar with how to use it efficiently.

“Most users aren’t proficient with that or able to do that readily,” said van Delden.

“So maybe that’s something that somebody could work at.”

He added that he believes dispatchers are working with cell phone providers to be able to use GPS information to assist in emergencies.

“It is possible, but it’s not readily available,” said van Delden.

“So we’re hoping that that technology will become available to emergency responders.”

In addition to the incident on Jan. 3, the Lacombe Fire Department responded to two crashes last weekend in the late hours of Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

van Delden said that in both incidents, little aid was necessary from fire crews and road conditions did not appear to be a factor.

He added that both drivers in the two separate incidents appeared to be under the influence, whether that was alcohol, drugs or simply sleep deprivation, he was unable to tell.

In both cases the drivers were transported to hospital for medical attention, van Delden said.