A handful of Lacombe firefighters have done their part to help out in the most widespread flooding Alberta has seen in a century.
Last Thursday afternoon, High River RCMP contacted Lacombe Fire Chief Ed van Delden requesting the Lacombe Fire Department provide mutual aid in flood rescue operations.
As there is no mutual aid agreement between Lacombe and High River, it took a few minutes for the fire department to obtain the necessary permissions from the City to respond to High River, said van Delden.
He added that in situations like these where such natural disasters are widespread, it is important for emergency crews to know that it is safe for them to respond elsewhere and also that they are responding to where they are needed most.
Having followed the necessary protocol, Lacombe Fire Department then responded with five firefighters in a rescue unit pulling their utility trailer with an ATV and motorboat. van Delden said that, while the department did not have any real difficulty reaching High River, travel conditions were not favourable on the trip and the rain was so hard that firefighters needed to decrease speed, even below the speed limit, several times on the way.
“Urgency without panic, that is kind of the mantra,” said van Delden. “So you have to slow down to go fast.”
van Delden added that traffic in Calgary is never that great and things had only worsened by the flooding when Lacombe Fire Department travelled through the city en route to High River.
Luckily, the fire department was able to meet up with some sheriffs who escorted them, as best they could, through Deerfoot, said van Delden.
Upon arriving in High River, a journey that took about three hours, the scale of the flood was obvious. “You could see for miles before we got there. Fields were completely inundated with water.”
Lacombe Fire Department’s primary objective in aiding the rescue operations was to use its boat and ferry groups of people from an area of High River that had become islanded by the floods back to more stable ground where they could be taken to safety.
van Delden added this area did not have any waterways around it, but was simply surrounded by low-lying areas that became filled with water due to the massive spread of the flooding.