For over a year several community groups have been preparing to send a fire truck to Caazapá, Paraguay and their results have paid off – the truck has reached the community safely.
This dream became a reality through partnerships between Lacombe Volunteer Firefighters Association (LVFA), A Better World Canada (ABW), Lacombe County and various other community members.
The truck and associated gear were originally shipped mid-March and arrived in the care of the Caazapá Fire Department on July 18th.
“We’re at the point where we’re celebrating that the truck got down there. It seems to be operating in good order after the transportation. In August we’re going to be sending two members down to assist with training the receiving department on the apparatus,” said LVFA President Eric Nicholas.
“Those two members will be Deputy Chief Heith Johannson and Uwe Kurth. Uwe was kind of the main contact person – he’s from Paraguay originally and he has a lot of relationships down there. He’s been going back and forth visiting family and has been very vital in establishing a connection to that area. He’s going to be going down there not only to help with the training, but also to scope out new areas that may need similar support.”
Looking towards more projects of the same nature, Kurth has already received 11 applications in various communities.
“The fact that he’s received so many applications from the area already is a big ticket that we’re going to be looking at continuing these projects. As units retire throughout the county, we’re going to be working on transporting them out to locations that can still utilize them.
“I feel it’s a great use of our abilities, so to say. There are a lot of different aspects that go into these projects.”
Months of planning preceded the arrival of the truck in Paraguay. Various community groups donated equipment – Alberta Health Services EMS, Stettler District Ambulance, the Clive Fire Department and the Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services to name a few.
Planning for a second mission is already in the works.
“We have a lot established for another donation already. Some of the biggest help has been working with A Better World. The main contact for us has been Rob Weich, and he was actually a firefighter with Lacombe for about seven years. He’s been a great contact person. He does a lot of mission trips with A Better World,” said Nicholas.
“He’s played a very pivotal role in things from the logistics in sending the truck down to timing it up with personnel for training. We’re planning that quite a ways in advance. We start looking at possible delivery dates and what weeks work for training around that because we want it to be fairly close.”
The Caazapá Fire Department sent pictures and video of the engine and equipment arriving back to the Lacombe Fire Department, along with a letter of thanks. Plans are already being explored to begin another mission as soon as possible.