Deputy Fire Chief Phil Dueck, Fire Chief Richard Paetzold, city councillor Marvin Plett and mayor Martin Harder were on hand as Enbridge field operations coordinator Lorne Buhr (centre) presented a cheque for $6,500. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)
The Winkler Fire Department now has the money to purchase a water rescue craft, thanks to a donation from Enbridge.
A drowning incident last year involving a low-head dam highlighted the need for better equipment to not only better protect the community, but also the rescuers involved.
The Fire Department tried to deploy an ice rescue platform, but the device was made for still water and capsized in the turbulent water around the dam, sending rescuers into the water. Crew members were attached to a rope and were pulled to safety.
“We couldn’t get close to the low-head dam because of that,” Winkler Fire Chief Richard Paetzold said. “Morden has a Zodiac, but even then we had to have them tied off and only go in so far to ensure that they didn’t nose into the water that was going down, and getting flipped as a result.”
The $6,500 donation is going toward a Polar 75 Rescue Device. The craft is designed to be placed right up against low-head dams to facilitate a search of the dangerous area at the base of the dam.
“This is an opportunity to be able to faciliate a rescue sooner and potentially be able to pull somebody out because we can get closer faster,” Paetzold said. “It’s also giving our guys a safe working platform so we’re not putting our guys in undue risk.”
Since 2002, Enbridge has handed out about $8.5 million through their Safe Community program across North America.
“We hope nobody ever has to use this equipment,” Enbridge community relations and public affairs specialist Les Scott said. “For us, we look at a lot of safety issues, and this could help these guys out.”