A Cherry Creek Fire Department volunteer firefighter got the chance to upgrade her training thanks to a BC Hydro grant.
Svetlana Zaytseva, 22, was able to take Instant Command Systems (ICS) 400 thanks to the BC Hydro Community Safety Award. The funding she received from the award was enough for fellow CCFD volunteer firefighter Rick Adams to also take the course.
The course, which is offered through the Justice Institute of Canada in New Westminister, teaches firefighters how to take control in extemely chaotic situations. It’s the most senior ICS course and is suitable for fire scenes at events as large scale as the Olympics or as devastating as a tsunami.
“It’s on how to command a scene, it’s designed for big incidents,” said Cherrry Creek Fire Department fire Chief Mike Sparrow.
While Olympic level events don’t tend to happen around the Alberni Valley, much of the city is considered a tsunami inundation zone.
“We can run a big scene now, a big disaster, we know all the protocols that go behind it,” Sparrow said, adding that the fire department now has four firefighters trained to that level. Those protocols come via the Emergency Management Response System.
“What it does is prioritize what they think is important to the area” should a major disaster occur.
“It goes through health and safety of the first responders, of the people there and then into infrastructure such as water, sewer, hydro, cell phone towers and then it goes all the way down to personal property as the lowest part of the list.”
The system is in place to make sure that firefighters prioritize the larger picture, such as keeping the town running and communication lines open, over personal property which is more easily replaced.
The course tested Zaytseva’s and Adam’s knowledge of the system by creating practice scenarios.
“There was a large earthquake, multiple gas leaks and flooding… it was good,” said Adams.
“We had to prioritize which incident we would go to first, where to send resources and establish command,” said Zaytseva.
That’s a scenario akin to what might happen here if a major tsunami were to strike and rare as events like that are, Zaytseva is glad to be prepared.
“They don’t happen often, the large incidents, but when they do happen not many people know what to do.”