British columbia | BC Coroner confirms identity of children in house fire

Mackenzie | 3 Feb 2012

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of two young children who died on Jan. 31 in a house fire in the community of Mackenzie.

The deceased are Joseph and Gabrielle Fleury, who resided in the home with their parents and sister. The boy and girl were twins and would have turned two next month.

Joseph and Gabrielle died after a fire broke out in the home about 7 a.m. on Jan. 31. The parents and sister managed to escape, but despite the desperate efforts of family members, neighbours and first responders, Joseph and Gabrielle could not be rescued.

The Coroners Service is continuing its investigation into these deaths along with a fire investigator from the Prince George fire department and the RCMP.

The Coroners Service expresses our sympathy to the Fleury family, and also our appreciation to the police officers and Mackenzie fire department volunteers who worked so diligently on the rescue and recovery efforts.

British Columbia | Police issue Ecstacy warning

Central Saanich | 3 Feb 2012

The Central Saanich Police Service and the Sidney North Saanich RCMP are asking parents of teenagers to have a conversation with their kids tonight about the drug ecstasy.

Last week, Central Saanich Police officers responded to drug overdose at a house party in Saanichton. When emergency crews arrived, a teenage boy was found in medical distress after taking the drug ecstasy. At this party there were several under age youth and all were drinking alcohol.

Fortunately, one of the youth recognized the serious reaction the boy was having after taking the drug and called 911 and the boy has survived this overdose. Many others in British Columbia have not been so fortunate. On average, BC has 20 Ecstasy related deaths each year, however, there has been a significant spike in ecstasy related deaths in the last six months.

The Central Saanich Police Service and the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP recognize that drug usage does not have borders. Our communities are being affected by this drug and we are united in our message to keep our kids safe from the devastating harm of illicit drugs.

Our message to parents is to talk to your kids about the following:

· Talk to your kids about using drugs.

· There is no such thing as a “bad batch” of synthetic drugs, because there is no “good batch”. Every tablet represents a potentially serious health risk whether that be short term or long term.
· “Ecstasy” is a street name not a chemical formula. Producers may use a variety of dangerous chemicals and still sell pills as “Ecstasy”.

· There is no safe dosage when taking these pills. Even a single use can lead to serious illness or death.

· These drugs are produced in kitchens, garages, bathrooms and worse. There is no way to know what you are eating when you swallow a tablet.

· If your kids are at a house party and see someone in medical distress – CALL 911. It may save a life.


British Columbia | Off-duty RCMP officer rescues toddler from overturned submerged vehicle

Delta | 3 Feb 2012

On Wednesday Feb 1, 2012, at 7:00 AM, Alyse a 25-year-old mother of two and resident of Surrey, BC, was on her way to work when she swerved to avoid ducks waddling across Hwy 17. She reported losing control of her car which eventually came to rest overturned and partially submerged in a deep, overgrown, water filled ditch that runs adjacent to the Highway 17 in Delta, BC.

While not a witness to the collision, an off-duty RCMP officer and his wife were traveling south on Hwy 17 near 52nd Street in Delta, BC, when they observed a distraught, wet little boy climbing out of the ditch. The officer, Constable Aaron Jabs of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, stopped at the scene and the six-year-old boy, Jordan, alerted him to an overturned vehicle in the ditch. Due to the overgrowth of vegetation and low light conditions at the time, the vehicle was described as being “virtually invisible” to passing traffic.

Leaving Jordan with his wife, Cst. Jabs rushed down the steep ditch and into the water where, according to the boy’s mother Alyse, a frantic attempt was being made to get into the car to save Haylee, her 2-year-old little girl.

“We were stuck inside and I wasn’t sure how we’d get out,” says Alyse. “Once I realized we were upside down I tried unsuccessfully to open the door. Then I told Jordan to open the rear passenger door and go get help… he walked around the car and up the embankment by himself and started to try to flag someone down. The man ran from his vehicle down the hill. I was so distraught, and I asked him for help to get her out… It was dark and hard to see. His wife brought their phone which had a flashlight on it and he was able to get my daughter out.”

Only after her release from hospital did Alyse learn that it had been an off-duty RCMP officer that had rescued her daughter. “I had no idea he was a police officer! I couldn’t have gotten my daughter out without him. I don’t know his name, but I’d love to meet him again to thank him and his family for what they did for me and my children,” says Alyse.

When asked about his heroic actions that morning, the officer responded: “I did what any off-duty RCMP officer would do in the same situation. I made sure they all got out of the car as quickly as possible, called 911, and then kept them all safe until emergency crews could arrive.”

“A situation like this shows that whether officers are on or off-duty, public safety remains their number one priority, no matter where they are or in what community. Cst.Jabs is an exceptional IHIT investigator so his display of humanity here shows an extension of the kind of person he is,” says Inspector Ward Lymburner, Operations Officer with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. Cst. Jabs has seven years service with the RCMP and joined IHIT in 2011.

Lower Mainland District RCMP and EDIV Senior spokesperson Sgt. Peter Thiessen credits the fast action of the off-duty officer and Alyse’s use of proper child seats and seatbelts as the main reasons why there weren’t serious injuries as a result of the crash.

“Extremely violent levels of force are involved whenever a vehicle rolls or flips over while traveling at highway speeds. If vehicle occupants aren’t wearing their seatbelts and if child restraint systems aren’t properly installed when this occurs, an occupant ejection is almost inevitable with serious injuries or death as a result. The little girl here might have ended up unconscious and under water if she had not been properly secured in her child seat or if the vehicle position had shifted while submerged. Proper use of the child restraint and a fast extraction from the vehicle were crucial to the little girl’s safety in these circumstances,” says Sgt.Thiessen.

Alyse and her children were transported to hospital by ambulance following the collision for treatment of minor injuries and for further examination. All have since been released from hospital and are now safe at home.


Norm Rooker | Cat Wrangling (Part 1)

Big Med editor Hal Newman trying to herd Jack & Johnny into his arms

It’s snowing again just a couple of hours before Vicki, my bride of 28 years & sister paramedic are about to hit the road for a weekend getaway.  No big deal, we live in the mountains of southwestern Colorado and knew snow was part of the package when we relocated here seven years ago.

But as I loaded the truck and prepared to head out, after all, that’s why we have 4-wheel drive, I started to flash back to a drive under similar conditions two winters ago.  What follows is not an EMS war story but rather a couple’s tale of solving a problem and working through each other’s “contrasting” working styles & thought processes.

It was the winter of 2010 when my bride and I discovered a new “couples” exercise. Catching your sister-in-law’s cat. Nothing leads to close communication and cooperation like trying to catch a near feral and motivated cat!

It all began innocently enough. We had agreed to cat sit Vicki’s sister Katie’s cat, Eartha.  Katie’s apartment at that time was up on top of Log Hill Mesa and access from the south is by CR 1. County Road 1, aka “the luge”, is a twisty, winding, switch back with spectacular views and drop offs and can be a bit of dicey drive in the winter. With this in mind we opted to bring Eartha to our apartment rather than make a daily drive up the escarpment to Katie’s place.

After all, how hard could that be?

It had been snowing all night and when we set off in the morning there was seven inches of freshly and still falling snow on the ground.  Fortunately the plows had already been down the escarpment a couple of times and you could see the charcoal dust on the road underneath the gauze like layer that was building up from the still continuing to fall snow.  We made it up with a minimum of drama.  Thank goodness for four wheel drive.

Eartha is not an antisocial cat.  It’s not like she hisses and claws at you if you approach her.  It’s just that she prefers to hide in seclusion. So after gathering up her stuff, litter box, kibble, feeders, favorite blankets and what not and making multiple trips through the now eight inches of fresh snow to load them into Vic’s jeep, the real work began.

Think cartoon character Elmer Fudd, “Be berrrrrryyyyy qwiet. We’re hunting puddy tats.”

After discovering that the lump under the bed quilt that Vicki had identified as Eartha was a pillow, the hunt really began. After seven-plus minutes of moving things around and crawling on the floor to peer under chairs, sofas and the bed I made a note to myself.

Don’t wear black polar fleece when you have to crawl around on the floor. You become a human dust mop.

To set the stage, Katie’s apartment is a converted basement area.  One large room with doors off only to the kitchen and bathroom/laundry area.  The room is divided into sections by the strategic placement of portable closet/wardrobe/storage units.  These provided plenty of cat sized places to hide or move to other sections of the apartment where humans had to walk around these same obstacles/walls.

After what seemed like several minutes of scouting around on all fours I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye and tracked it down to said cat staring, not glaring, at me from under the far corner of the bed.

Stretching out on the floor along one side of the bed to block Eartha’s escape, I sent Vicki to the other side to flush the cat out. Vicki stated that during previous efforts to assist Katie in capturing Eartha they used a broom to do this.  With that she got down on all fours and flushed said feline towards me.

I got her but couldn’t get a firm enough grip before she wriggled free and dashed into the next room. Actually ran under one of the portable closets, one of those “some assembly required” affairs of wire poles and vinyl siding, that served as a room divider/wall.

Thus began a 10 minute game of rearranging furniture, blocking kitty escape routes w pillows, and chasing Eartha under the bed and then flushing her out to lose her  yet again. On the third time, me snorting from the many cat hairs & dust bunnies (those few that weren’t already sticking to my polar fleece pants) that have flown up my nostrils I discovered Eartha had gone back under the bed but this time up into the box springs.

All I could see were a few tufts of fur, two legs and a tail hanging down.  Fortunately it was close to one side of the bed. So, I had Vicki lay down on the far side of the bed to block the cat’s escape. My mistake was letting Vicki take the broom with her for a feeling of safety or protection.

I very quietly laid down and was just starting to reach under to grab the cat when Vicki decided to” help” me by pushing the broom at Eartha.  This “helpful” action spurred Eartha to crawl away from the end of the broom stick, and more importantly, me, through the box spring and out of my reach before hopping down and running away.

I “thanked” my bride for her “help” with much glowing and “appreciative” phraseology.  All the time she is laughing and begging me to stop as she needs to pee.  Well that and with her bad knees, she was also asking me to help her up.

We chased Eartha again back to the bedroom and this time she hopped on top of the bed and attempted to hide under the covers. We pulled them back and I think it was less my blazing fast hand speed that caught her by the scruff of the neck than that she just gave up.

She just stared up at us with this baleful look that seemed to say “OK, you’re going to keep chasing me till you catch me so just do it.” At least that was my interpretation of it.

I’m about to turn and tease Vicki all over again about how helpful she was with that broom when she uttered one of those spouse phrases that just stops you dead in your tracks.

“Well that was easier and took less time than I thought it would.”

“Really? Really! Was there something about this “hunt” that maybe you could have shared with me before we started?”

I couldn’t hold the glare for more than a couple of seconds and we both chuckled and loaded Eartha into the jeep for the descent down to the apartment.

As we crept back down the slick escarpment with the slightly pitiful sounds of a now softly mewling Eartha in the background it was at that moment that I decided that cat catching would probably make a good couple’s communication & team building exercise.

Cheshire | Elderly woman dies after house fire in Elton

Alvanley Road, Elton | 3 Feb 2012

Just after 5.30am the Service were called by the police to a house fire in Elton near Chester with reports that people may still be in the property.

Two fire engines from Ellesmere Port and one from Chester went to the mid townhouse in Alvanley View, Elton, Chester and discovered a fire in an upstairs bedroom.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the property and rescued an elderly woman from the bedroom before putting out the fire using one hose reel jet.

The casualty was handed over to the care of paramedics. Sadly she was later confirmed to have died.

Residents on either side were evacuated while fire crews checked that the blaze had not spread through the roofspace. They were subsequently allowed to return after it was confirmed that the fire had been contained.

There were smoke alarms in the house that were activated by the fire which caused significant smoke damage to the property.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. However the fire investigation is focusing on the cause being accidental possibly relating to electrics. The fire is not being treated as suspicious.

Avon | Dog rescued from frozen lake by firefighters

Avon | 3 Feb 2012

Firefighters have rescued a dog from a frozen lake after the animal fell through the ice.

When crews arrived they found Clifford the Collie/Jack Russell cross, in the middle of the lake treading water. It’s thought he had been there for around 45 minutes and the water was approximately four feet deep.

Firefighters wearing dry suits broke the ice on the lake and waded into the water with their rescue sled. When they reached the animal they assisted it on to the sled and brought it to safety. It was then reunited with its owner and appeared to be unharmed.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service would like to praise the actions of the owner who did not attempt to rescue the dog and risk falling through the ice. Instead she dialled 999 and asked for the fire and rescue service.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind people of the dangers of frozen lakes and ponds. As the winter weather takes hold the service is urging people to take care when out and about.

Fortunately in this case the dog and the owner were unharmed but had the owner entered the water it may have been a different story.

While the ice may appear to look thick and able to take your weight, that may not be the case and just a few seconds in freezing water could quickly lead to hypothermia and unconsciousness.

London | Firefighters urge caution during ‘severe cold weather’

London | 3 Feb 2012

With freezing temperatures hitting the capital and the Met Office issuing a severe cold weather warning fire chiefs are today urging people to take extra care and stay safe as the icy weather looks set to last into the weekend.

As ever, firefighters across the capital are on standby to undertake water rescues if people get stuck on icy lakes and to tackle any blazes caused by people going to extreme lengths to keep warm.

To help prevent people from being seriously injured, or worse, if they fall through ice in frozen ponds and lakes, London Fire Brigade is on standby with equipment including emergency rescue boats, inflatable rescue paths, mud lances, thermal clothing and dry suits.

Fire chiefs are also urging people to be careful in how they go about heating their homes during the cold snap. Just this week a man was taken to hospital with burns and smoke inhalation following a fire caused by his electric heater being left too close to his bed.

Dave Brown, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Mobilising, said:

“When freezing weather strikes, people often put themselves in dangerous situations. If you think wandering onto a frozen pond is a good idea, it’s not. You run the risk of hypothermia, or even worse.

“If you use heaters or fires in your home, please be extra careful. We’ve recently heard of people putting heaters and hairdryers in their beds to stay warm and this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Brigade is urging the public to take extra precautions in order to stay safe, including:

• Ensuring pipes in your home are properly lagged, in order to reduce the risk of flooding caused by frozen pipes. The number of flooding incidents often shoots up during very cold weather.
• Take extra care in the home to avoid fires. Make sure heaters and fires are well away from flammable items like curtains or bedding.
• Drive carefully on icy roads.
• Staying well away from frozen ponds and lakes. London’s firefighters are called to rescue people and pets who have fallen through or become trapped on ice every year.

London | Brigade’s new control centre ready for Olympics

London | 3 Feb 2012

The transformation of a potential white elephant into a hub for the capital’s 999 fire response service will be officially recognised on Wednesday 1 February when fire minister Bob Neill, MP opens a new London Fire Brigade operations centre in Merton.

The building was originally specified and built as part of the failed regional FiReControl project abandoned in December 2010.  An agreement has been reached between London’s fire authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government that is expected deliver savings of around £600,000 to the Brigade. The government is also paying £2.25m towards the future purchase of a new ‘999’mobilising system.

The Brigade’s control centre  has moved from its former home on the Isle of Dogs.  Other occupants include the Brigade’s emergency planning team who are able to coordinate the emergency planning work of London’s boroughs when circumstances dictate a London-wide solution, such as the snow of previous winters. The building will also house the fire service’s National Co-ordination Centre, which is due to move from West Yorkshire to Merton in April this year, bringing London and national fire service emergency planning under one roof in time for the Olympics.

With the minister at the opening of the London Operations Centre  will  be Mayor of London Boris Johnson, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Chairman Councillor Brian Coleman and London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “’The opening of this new operation centre is testament to our commitment to deliver a fire service that London needs, whilst protecting the pockets of hard-pressed Londoners. With the eyes of the world on the city this year, it is essential that we have the systems in places so that our response to any incidents will be quick and robust.”

Fire Authority Chairman Councillor Brian Coleman said: “I am delighted that we have been able to salvage this excellent facility from the wreckage of the regional control project whilst saving the London council tax payer money. This is a good deal”

• First planned in 2004 and expected to cost around £340m, the FiReControl project was beset with difficulties causing delays to the project’s implementation and projected cost overruns. The project was abandoned in December 2010 when it became clear that cost and delays were to increase still further to around £500m. The buildings to house the nine regional control rooms had by that time been built.
• Around 100 Control staff work a six-watch system. Taking over 250,000 calls a year, it is the busiest fire control in Europe.
• In the event of an incident that may have national implications requiring co-ordination of national resources, the Fire Service National Co-ordination Centre liaises with the government and fire and rescue services to mobilise the required resources.
• The Emergency Planning Team’s London Local Authority Coordination Centre coordinates the emergency planning work of London’s boroughs when a London-wide response is required. An example is during the past two harsh winters, when the Centre has been used to coordinate salt and grit supplies across the capital.

London | One man injured in house fire in Blackheath

Shooters Hill Road | 3 Feb 2012

Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters  were tackling a fire in a house of three floors on Shooters Hill Road, SE3 this morning.

Two men escaped from the house before the Brigade arrived, one of them suffered from smoke inhalation and was treated by London Ambulance Service on the scene.

Half of the ground floor as well as part of the first floor was damaged by the fire.

Crews from Woolwich, Deptford, Poplar and New Cross fire stations were on the scene.

The Brigade was called at 1037 and the fire was under control by 1253.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Cumbria | Three people injured in flat fire in Barrow-in-Furness

Low White Close, Barrow-in-Furness | 1 Feb 2012

At 2321 hours on Wednesday 1st February 2012, appliances from Barrow, Walney and Dalton, including the aerial ladder platform, along with Station Manager Stuart Dolan and Watch Manager Mike Dobson attended reports of a fire in a flat on Low White Close, Barrow in Furness.

On arrival crews found a first floor flat well alight and the building heavily smoke logged.

Crews rescued three people and a dog and two casualties were transferred to Furness General Hospital.

Crews extinguished the fire in the bedroom using six sets of breathing apparatus, two hosereels, two 9 metre ladders, thermal imaging cameras, lighting and positive pressure ventilation.

Crews returned to home station at 0107 hours.