Minutes matter when it comes to saving a life.
 
Following council’s decision to help fund a full-time fire fighter team, Fort Saskatchewan Fire Department chief Shawn McKerry explained why this is vital for the community.
 
“Whether it be police, fire or ambulance, the faster we get first responders to an emergency, the greater the potential is for a more successful outcome,” he said.
 
Up until now their average response time has been 17 minutes. The upgrade will get crews there in 10 minutes or less.
 
“If someone passes out and is unconscious and not breathing, at four minutes the human body starts to suffer brain damage of no oxygen," said McKerry.
 
If crews can get there in four to six minutes they have a better chance at a positive outcome, making the job more rewarding.
 
“They now have more opportunity for success whereas if you arrive at a house in 17 minutes, the whole house is on fire and you can’t really save anything, you save the next house but you didn’t have an opportunity to save the first one and now this is what it’s going to grant us, the opportunity to provide an enhanced service,” he noted.
 
The department is running on a paid on-call fire service with casual fire fighters on shifts. This model will remain the same, but add the full-time staff as well.
 
When a fire truck is dispatched it will have two full-time career fire fighters on board with two professional paid on-call fire fighters.
 
This idea was originally discussed in 2008 locally. Leduc and Spruce Grove initiated this project in 2003 and 2004 with their population less than 16,000 people.
 
Fort council will increase the fire department’s operating budget by $1.4 million over the next two years. By 2019 the budget will be just over $3.5 million.

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