A large percentage of the emergencies responded to by our Firefighters involve the rescue, or "extrication", of persons who are trapped as a result of motor vehicle collisions. Time is a crucial enemy in the struggle to free people trapped in the wreckage of a car following a collision. Our Firefighters constantly train on the newest and most innovative techniques available to ensure that those injured are quickly and safely transferred to the care of emergency medical professionals in our community. Both of our rescue trucks are equipped with Amkus heavy hydraulic equipment, including a set of spreaders or “jaws of life”, cutters and both short and long rams that have greatly decreased the amount of time needed to extricate the patient from the vehicle. Our rescue trucks also contain a variety of other tools used in the extrication process. Our rescue truck is often referred to as a toolbox on wheels.
Emergency Patient Care
All fire suppression staff complete a comprehensive 30-hour program covering all aspects of providing emergency patient care including the subjects of trauma management, CPR, infection control and emergency services operations. The firefighters maintain their certification through ongoing practical, oral, and written testing procedures.
Over and above this however, a specialized team of firefighters have been trained to direct Emergency Patient Care operations at incidents involving motor vehicle accidents and situations where we respond in conjunction with other emergency responders. This "EPC Team" works closely with other allied emergency services agencies to ensure that emergency patients receive vital life saving care. This Team meets regularly and is tested by means of scenarios, educational sessions and specialized programs (i.e. Air and land ambulance ride along, Basic Trauma Life Support training, Emergency First Responder certification, etc.)
The department utilizes modern basic life supporting equipment such as automatic oxygen ventilators and suction devices. The use of blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, automatic thermometers, airways and spinal immobilization equipment allows us to continue assessment and basic life saving care until medical aid and transport to the hospital can be provided.
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Learn CPR and first aid techniques! Your quick action will aid the emergency services in saving a life!
Hazardous Materials Response
Every year millions of tons of hazardous materials and their related wastes are produced, used and transported to meet the needs of our society. Many of these needs could not be met without using chemicals. However, every beneficial chemical has its associated risks, and it is these risks that concern the Halton Hills Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team.
Within our coverage area there are a variety of hazards. Transportation concerns include highways 401, 7 and 25 and one of the busiest railroad freight lines in Ontario. In addition, we are directly in the flight path for Pearson International Airport, one of the busiest airports in North America. Fixed industrial facilities within our area include chemical producers and those that process and package chemicals for end-users. There are a number of quarry operations that make extensive use of explosives. Commercial properties include wholesale and retail distributors as well as end users.
In 1990 the Halton Hills Fire Department identified a need to have staff adequately trained and equipped to safely and effectively deal with hazardous materials related incidents. The Hazardous Materials Response Team was formed and is comprised of 20 staff members trained to those competencies of the Technician Level of NFPA 472 that are within our team mandate. That 'Team Mandate' is to safely and effectively assess the risk, protect the lives of both the emergency responders and the public and to limit property loss and environmental damage. During an emergency incident, the Team is supported by the Fire Suppression Division staff that have been trained to the Awareness Level of NFPA 472.
The Hazardous Materials Response Team trains regularly throughout the year to maintain and upgrade their skills. Many of the practical training sessions are conducted off site, in various locations throughout the community. This imparts a level of realism into the training evolutions to better prepare the Team for real life incidents. In addition, Team members provide the Awareness Level training to suppression staff.
The cost of providing hazardous material response capabilities within the community cannot be over looked. Specialized training provided by department staff and outside contractors, maintaining and upgrading equipment, research and program development, all place an additional strain on budgets. Our program has received the financial support of numerous businesses, organizations and individuals from within the community and throughout the surrounding area.
In 1998 the Hazardous Materials Response Team acquired an Emergency Response Unit. This 8-foot by 28 foot tandem axle trailer is used to store and transport the Team's equipment and, once on site at a hazardous materials incident, serves as a staging area and command post. Several organizations came forward to purchase and equip this unit to meet our needs. Our 'Corporate Community Partners' involved in this project included;
The Co-operators Insurance, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 120, Georgetown Royal Canadian Legion Branch 197, Acton Ladies' Auxiliary, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 197, Acton Park Truck & Trailer Centre Limited
Remember, when thinking about hazardous materials, it's not if it might happen, it's when.
The Technical Rescue Team is comprised of twenty highly trained and skilled firefighters who respond to dangerous and specialized rescue incidents such as ice and water rescues. The team performs other specialized rescue functions involving high angle (rope) rescue and trench collapse. The firefighters who form the nucleus of the team must demonstrate proficiency in a number of disciplines and are tested regularly to ensure that their skill levels are maintained at the highest levels. Rigging skills, rappelling skills, swimming skills, the ability to work as part of a coordinated, cohesive unit, the ability to improvise and strong physical attributes are essential qualities of those who qualify for membership on the team. The team trains regularly, practicing and drilling on basic rescue skills and techniques that are paramount to the successful outcome of any rescue situation. The team also enjoys the ongoing support of the community in many of its endeavours. BASF Canada Inc. has donated several thousand dollars worth of advanced rescue gear to the team, and very recently, the team has partnered with the Region of Halton to ensure that specialized trench rescue equipment is available to the team should the need arise to acquire this equipment in an emergency.