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PBES reports “record number of emergency events” for seventh consecutive year

Posted on April 4, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

The Town of Picture Butte heard from Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Services for the Town, Frank West on the year-end Emergency Services report at the recent March 25 regular council meeting. 

West noted in his report to council the department continues to face “the consistent challenge of keeping up with increased service demand, especially in our EMS Division,” and added the department saw in 2023, for the seventh consecutive year, a “record number of emergency events.”

Call volume was up nine per cent in 2023 from 2022, and the department’s call volume last year surpassed 1,000 events for the third time in the department’s history. 

The year end report noted that the department responded to 31 motor vehicle collisions, 12 structure fires, eight vehicle fires, and 13 outdoor/wildland fires, and completed three technical rescues, 63 tender responses, and 1220 ambulance responses, in addition to the 161 fire medical responses, totalling 1343 events and 1661 unit responses. The report noted that fires accounted for just under three per cent of total call volume, while good intent calls made up 23 per cent. Overwhelmingly, rescue and EMS incidents accounted for 72.4 per cent of the call volume, or 971 incidents, with the remaining calls, totalling just under two per cent,  were attributed to service calls, calls related to hazardous conditions with no fire, and false alarms.

The report also noted that noted 2020 saw an 11 per cent increase in emergency events compared to 2019. In 2021, the department saw a 42 per cent increase in emergency events compared to 2020. The continued to trend upward in 2022 with a 16 per cent increase over 2021, and was up nine per cent increase in emergency events in 2023 compared to 2022. 

West reported over $368,000 in annual fire losses as a result of residential fires, $656,000 in losses from total structure fires, totalling $968,000 in total damage for all fires in 2023. 

Despite the busy year, West noted, “We made significant gains and saw meaningful growth in our department in 2023.”

Last year, Phase 1 of the fire station expansion was completed. The renovations expanded the station’s apparatus bays and in-station training areas by 3,200 square feet, creating a safer work space and space for more on-site training. The department also expanded in terms of personnel, welcoming 10 new firefighters and 6 new paramedics to the team. 

West provided an update on the Picture Butte Emergency Services’ (PBES) Inter-facility Transfers (IFT) pilot project. In 2023, in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS), PBES staffed an additional ambulance to assist in IFTs and patient transport across southern Alberta, said West.

Data collected in 2023, saw that between April 17 and Dec. 31, 2023, the Picture Butte unit completed 290 scheduled, non-emergent transfers to sites across southern Alberta including Coaldale, Raymond, Taber, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Fort McLeod, Pincher Creek, Cardston, Blairmore, Claresholm, High River, and Calgary. The IFT unit visits hospitals clinics care homes private residences airports or wherever patients need to be transported to

West noted over 3,500 volunteer hours were logged for PBES in 2023. The full report can be found online at http://www.picturebutte.ca/docs/files/2023%20Annual%20Report.pdf.

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