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Jennifer Grigg   

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Jan. 20, 2015, Port Severn, Ont. - For those who love to snowmobile, my township is a mecca for it. I myself am an avid sledder who lives for the weekends when my husband, two daughters and I can take off for the day with friends.

On the weekend, we were about 20 minutes away from home doing some running around when the call came across the pager for a snowmobile accident. I don’t think we’ve ever left Walmart that fast before.

Due to our location, we were unable to hear the entire page so I sent a text message to another firefighter for more details. He called me right away and advised that the accident involved a two-year-old. He also let me know he wouldn’t be responding as he was at the hospital visiting his wife (the same woman that I’d written about in an earlier blog).

I then sent a text to another firefighter that I thought would be responding, to let him know that we were 20 minutes out. We often don’t have sufficient manpower on the weekends and so many of us keep in touch via text messages when a call comes in; especially when the three of us that live closest to the hall were all out of town at the time.

This makes me think of the new dispatch systems that are available for volunteer departments that show who is responding and from where via text or email, and how beneficial that system would have been that day.

However, you work with what you’ve got and I was able to let someone at the hall know that we were on our way. My husband Earl and I then started talking logistics. Our dispatch was trying to arrange transportation out to the call, but was having no luck with the local marinas after contacting three of them. Earl and I discussed whether we should go home and get our sleds, or go straight to the hall.

We listened to the radio transmissions while en route and heard that the Ontario provincial police were responding on sleds with a 20-minute ETA so we knew there were at least two sleds available. We then heard our district chief radio that the rescue truck was out of service and they were responding the pumper with three.

The decision was made to go straight to the hall and my husband was able to get the rescue truck running. The rescue boggen was loaded into the back and we responded with three, while I shouted at my two daughters to close the bay door as we left them at the fire hall. We dropped our captain at his house to grab his sled in case another one was needed, and continued to the call. When we arrived at the staging area, a crew of three firefighters had already responded to the scene and the police officers were waiting to take Earl and I out. Our captain, who is a paramedic, arrived at the same time on his own sled and followed us out to the call.

The patient had lost control of his brand-new sled and rolled it. He was complaining of back and shoulder pain and was clearly in agony. He was collared, boarded and loaded into a Stokes basket in the rescue boggan for the long, slow ride back to the staging area and a waiting ambulance.

One of the firefighters rode with him in the boggan and said that the poor guy howled in pain most of the way back. It was by no means a gentle ride over the snow, but there was no other way to transport him. It did, however, get us talking about ways to make it a smoother ride for the next unfortunate person. We’re now looking at putting foam in the bottom of our three rescue boggans to provide a bit of a smoother ride.

There is something to be learned from every call; ways to do things better, easier, more efficiently or more effectively.

But in the end, it’s all about teamwork.

And the two-year-old? We have no idea what that was all about but were all relieved to find out that there wasn’t one involved.

Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. Email her at and follow her on Twitter at @georgianbayjen

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