Firefighters better equipped for park, water rescue

Dave Mathieson
Published on July 14, 2014

ADVOCATE – When dealing with the highest tides in the world bad decisions can quickly take a turn for the worse.

A case in point is the two people and their dog that found themselves stranded on the Three Sisters rock formation along the Fundy coast at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park Thursday night.

“We had our side-by-side and trailer with the boat but by the time we got on scene the helicopter was there,” said Michael MacDougall, chief at the Advocate Fire Department.

The helicopter was a Cormorant helicopter which flew in from CFB Greenwood.

“They recovered the patients and dropped them off at Spicer’s Cove,” added MacDougall.

Hikers walking trails in and around Cape Chignecto Provincial Park are led astray every year.

“Some summers you get one or two calls in the park. Other years you get a dozen,” said MacDougall.

Cumberland County firefighters are becoming better equipped to deal with dangers along shore.

On Sunday, 21 firefighters from Advocate, Parrsboro and Joggins received certification allowing them to legally drive off highway vehicles used in rescue operations.

“The purpose of the course (on Sunday) is to get everybody certified for driving off highway vehicles like four wheelers, the side-by-sides, ATV’s, along with hauling rescue trailers with the boats and launching the boat into the water for us,” said MacDougall.

Stu Fraser, chief instructor at Fundy Driving Schools, was teaching the course in Advocate. He said firefighters are taking on more responsibilities every day.

“This is very modern stuff we’re teaching them,” said Fraser.

He says it’s about due diligence.

“Firefighters are trained as much as possible so they can do as much as possible.”

Sunday’s was the first time an OHV certification course was offered to Cumberland County fire fighters. Fraser has taught the course to other departments along the Fundy shore, including in Kentville.

Some of the students taking the course were junior firefighters.

“We have five junior department members taking the training. The youngest is 14-years-old,” said MacDougall.

He says driving an OHV is new to some of them.

“They’re learning how to take corners while pulling a trailer and how to shift their weight.”

The Advocate department purchased a new side-by-side last year.

“We paid $20,000 for it, so we want people properly trained and to have a certificate that says they are trained,” said MacDougall.