Red Deer County Protective Services staff and volunteers were recognized for their help to the RCMP during the September wildfires in the Waterton National Park region.
On Nov. 20th staff from the RCMP were on hand at Red Deer County Council Chambers to thank those individuals by giving them a District Commander’s Certificate of Appreciation.
“It’s so significant these days to have good partnerships with our emergency services folks,” said Chief Superintendent Tony Hamori, district commander of Southern Alberta RCMP.
He added they seem to be getting more and more involved in the natural disaster side of things.
“Alberta’s had quite a bit of experience in that in the last few years with Slave Lake, Fort McMurray, Waterton and High River, so we’ve made extensive networks over the last few years with respect to our partners in emergency services,” he said.
There were six volunteers that went to Waterton, splitting into two shifts of both day and night shifts.
When fires like the one in the Waterton area occur, the RCMP rely on a group they have called STO, which stands for Special Tactical Operations. He said those members are trained in various ways to deal with emergencies, like natural disasters, major crime events and more.
“They are comprised of members all throughout the province that do these roles and respond to these matters where we need extra resources in a hurry,” said Hamori.
Kevin Kunetzki, the officer in charge of Leduc RCMP is also a STO Commander, and was there to recognize those who helped.
“Their support along with their agencies down there is integral to providing the appropriate level of service,” said Kunetzki.
He said the conditions at the time were very smoky and were a bit cooler in temperature.
“When you have an appropriate command post staffed with assistance like the support that Red Deer County provided, it makes it much easier to do our job much more effectively.”
Kunetzki said they had up to 30 RCMP officers on the ground at every time.
Accepting the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the team was Assistant County Manager Ric Henderson.
He said it’s nice to see the appreciation when you go out and help some of the other agencies, especially for the volunteers who go out and want to help people.
“It’s a great honour to be recognized by the RCMP, especially for the volunteers, because they are true volunteers that go out and put their time in, and to be able to go out and do something and help somebody makes it all worthwhile,” said Henderson.
He added that the team took their command post down, providing the RCMP a place to work from while they were doing the road block management. They also helped to feed the members on the road blocks.
“I think we’ve shown we’re really prepared, and we’ve created these relationships. It wasn’t hard to do. When we went down they just slid right into the roles they wanted and did what they needed,” he said about the volunteers.
Henderson said that nobody can do anything by themselves.
“The partnerships are really important and every little bit that we can supply or somebody else can supply comes altogether in times of disaster and makes things work really well.”
He said he’s learned that they have set themselves up to be a good resource for themselves and others.