Continuing to Invest in our Emergency Response System

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, March 14th, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

Recently, I announced the delivery of a new $336,000 pumper fire truck to the Ibex Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

The truck is your government’s latest investment in Yukon’s emergency response system, and reflects our ongoing commitment to support our emergency responders including firefighters and paramedics by investing in new equipment.

Ibex Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s new pumper fire truck is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will improve public safety, as well as upgrades that fit Yukon’s specific needs. One of these features, the Rumbler™ siren, emits low-frequency sound waves that penetrate hard surfaces like doors and windows. Paired with the truck’s standard siren, it will alert vehicle operators that the truck is nearby.

It also has a scene-lighting system that can illuminate an area the size of two football fields, and it automatically deploys chains for winter road conditions to ensure that firefighters can get to the site of an emergency wherever it occurs.

Other Yukon Government investments in improving firefighting capacity in the past two years include three new pumper-tankers delivered to the Hootalinqua, Ibex Valley, and Golden Horn volunteer fire departments, and a mobile live fire training unit purchased for the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The construction of a new fire hall for Beaver Creek is also scheduled to begin this spring.

Fire safety is just one part of Yukon’s integrated emergency response system within the Protective Services Branch, which is made up of: Yukon Emergency Medical Services, the Fire Marshal’s Office, Wildland Fire Management, and the Emergency Measures Organization. Together, they help keep Yukoners safe in times of need.

Last November, we officially opened the new Emergency Response Centre in Whitehorse, which fulfills a platform commitment. The Emergency Response Centre is located at the top of Two Mile Hill and now serves as Whitehorse’s primary ambulance station. This new, centrally located ambulance station will help our paramedics provide rapid response to residents of Whitehorse and rural areas.

And in February, we celebrated the arrival of two new state-of-the-art ambulances for Yukon’s Emergency Medical Services fleet. This $306,000 investment is part of our ongoing investment in our ambulance fleet.

Modern equipment is necessary to the success of our emergency response network, but it is only part of the picture.

We also rely on the skill and dedication of our emergency medical workers and firefighters, many of whom are volunteers.

Yukon Emergency Medical Services has 58 staff, including paramedics, critical care teams, and emergency response communications officers, as well as about 155 volunteers in 15 communities. The Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office operates 16 volunteer fire departments with 225 volunteers in unincorporated communities in addition to its full-time fire marshals.

Together with our many full-time and volunteer emergency responders, your government is committed to ensuring that Yukoners get the help they need as efficiently as possible when an emergency strikes.

We will continue to invest in emergency response equipment and training in Yukon because the higher quality of life we strive to build in the territory begins with keeping Yukoners safe and healthy.

An effective emergency response network is integral to achieving that goal.