Chief Charlie Boyte's report for January 2011

Michael Boyle

At our Pender Island Fire Rescue Christmas gathering in December I had the great privilege of thanking our dedicated volunteers for the special gifts they give to our families, our friends and our community all year long. They are the gifts of safety and security.

On the Penders, those gifts reflect a commitment to doing “the whole job,” providing genuine care to the people that need our help most when emergencies threaten and folks are most vulnerable.

When I talk about “the whole job” my mind goes back to the rescue of Callum McKey on a hot July evening last year. Generally the public would never hear about this rescue due to fire department confidentiality policies, but in this case the clients wanted to share their appreciation of the service they received. Callum had fallen from a tree and down a cliff. After the successful rescue a CT scan at the hospital showed he had two complete bi-lateral breaks in his neck, a collapsed lung, broken sternum and ribs and other injuries.

The rescue involved our rope rescue crews, the RCMP, the ambulance service paramedics, the medical clinic staff, the water taxi and VGH staff.

In a letter of thanks Caroline McKey expressed her appreciation and admiration of all who helped that evening. “I watched as many rescue people came slipping down the hill in full gear, carrying gear on a very hot evening. They were kind and calm both to Callum, myself and to each other. They worked well as a team and no one panicked, yet they worked quickly. As Callum started to say he was having trouble breathing, the paramedic gave us full confidence all would be well. We wish we could thank you by name but only remember a sea of faces,” Caroline wrote.

She also wrote that the medical staff at Victoria General was impressed that Callum was hauled up the hill, transported across the water with a broken neck and his spinal cord was intact. “A lot of that has to do with the way he was handled at the accident site,” Caroline wrote.

The McKey emergency teaches us that when our work is done with empathy, concern, care and compassion each and every time the result is excellence in service delivery.

Our officers, firefighters, first responders, and communications people responded to about 200 emergencies in 2010, some more grave than the McKey accident and others less serious. The one thing in common at these incidents was the care and attention given by our volunteer fire/rescue responders.

What is less obvious is the level of commitment made by the volunteers behind the scenes. Excellence in service delivery – doing “the whole job” – is made possible through the support and commitment of our people in administration, our truck checkers, hall maintenance people, culinary crews and the seamstress that fixes our turnout gear and uniforms. It is made possible through care given by our Reki people and the ambulance service volunteers who monitor vitals during our training. It has been made possible by the people that get our message to the community through our web site, other writing and the work of our grant writers. It is made possible through the Pender Cooks project and their contribution to the benevolent fund that supports our volunteers when they are in need.

Excellence has been made possible by the funding and support of our committed Board of Directors, Tru Value Foods and New To U and other supporters. As well, it has been made possible through our committed and caring partners: The RCMP, Emergency Program, Victim Services, doctors and BCAS services.

As we embark on a New Year I would also like to thank Pender Island Fire Protection Society and the community for your support. You provide the motivation to do “the whole job” and the tools and facilities we require.

Thank you all for your support and on behalf of all the volunteers at Pender Island Fire Rescue I wish you a safe, happy and healthy 2011!


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Ian Elliott

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