The South Pigeon Lake Fire Rescue is looking at an increased number of call-outs for 2018, noted Fire Chief Wayne Benson.
Speaking at the fire hall located on Hwy. #13 near the Village at Pigeon Lake Sept. 25, Benson stated the department has 101 calls as of that date, compared to 113 calls in all of 2017 and 125 calls in all of 2016. The fire chief estimates the department will exceed those totals by December 31 of this year.
He noted 2018 did feel busier but in no particular area, “Kind of across the board,” said Benson. Benson said that medical calls have increased, which includes emergencies like heart attacks and injuries, and in a recreational area like Pigeon Lake, injuries can happen on a regular basis.
The number one call-out for the South Pigeon Lake department is medical first response; in a nutshell, if an ambulance isn’t able to respond immediately, the fire rescue heads out. Benson stated MFR requires substantial training and he said the South Pigeon Lake department is proud of their training, which is just below EMR level.
The number two call-out is motor vehicle collisions, and the fire chief said they vary widely in nature. He said the majority of MVCs seem to involve distracted drivers, but the department also handled two calls which appeared to involve marijuana impairment plus a couple of moose collisions. Oddly, Benson noted the department responded to no calls this year which involved alcohol impairment.
South Pigeon Lake, along with nearby Mulhurst Fire Rescue, recently completed both ice and water rescue training, and had to put that training to the test this past year. The department conducted three water rescues and he said he was concerned to see that in some instances, those rescued weren’t wearing life jackets.
As for new equipment, Benson noted the department, just recently, ordered their new side-by-side ATV which is designed to handle bush fires. “We’re trying to nail it before it gets too big,” said Benson. He stated some fires and medical calls can occur in rough, hilly or tree-covered terrain, which are difficult or impossible to access with normal fire trucks.
Benson said the South Pigeon Lake department tries to be as diverse as possible considering the equally diverse terrain they deal with.
He also pointed out the department raised funds for the entire ATV project, which was hosted by local residents Darrell and Bev Bohlender, and very strongly supported by the community which helped raise $27,000, with fundraising ongoing.
The fire chief said the South Pigeon Lake department currently has a waiting list of people who wish to join, and he said it’s kind of nice to see that.