Apr 30, 2020

A Message from Fire/Rescue Chief Chris Geiger - Drive-by's and Parades

We have seen the recent trend towards drive by parades for healthcare workers, birthday parties, retirements etc. and feel that it is time to explain why we are not participating in them.
There are several factors that have gone in to this decision:
In the beginning, as we were being asked to participate in drive by parades for our healthcare workers, we very simply felt that we could not expose our people, including each other, to this virus any more than absolutely necessary. We had been directed to close the fire hall for all non-essential business in order to maintain physical distancing.

It is difficult to maintain a 2 metre separation in the cab of a vehicle, even ones as large as our firetrucks!  In firefighting we often refer to a risk/benefit analysis. Is the risk we are about to expose our people to worth the benefit we will gain from it? Sometimes, the answer is yes, and we (carefully) “risk a lot to save a lot”. Sometimes, the answer is unclear and so we are unwilling to take risks in order to gain little or no benefit.

This is one of those cases, where the right thing to do means not risking the health and safety of our firefighters.

As a paid on call/volunteer department, our members are not already at the hall. We respond to the hall when we are called out for an emergency, and in those times, the risk is worth the reward.

Even in those cases, however, during the COVID-19 crisis, we have attempted to mitigate risk by reducing the number of people per apparatus, and sending more apparatus to the scene.
The second factor in our decision is operational readiness. The point has been made to us that it is possible to put only one person in the truck, and therefore still participate in a parade or drive-by and maintain physical distancing.

This is a persuasive argument, and one that many of our fellow departments found acceptable. The problem that we face is again the risk/benefit analysis. This time, the risk is to the community.

When we participate in Ladysmith Days parade or Light Up, or the Easter Bunny, we always send an apparatus crewed with a minimum of 4 people, which means that this apparatus can respond directly to an emergency from wherever it is.

If it only had one person on it, and got an emergency call-out, it would have to return to the hall to pick up a full crew and then respond to the emergency, with the potential to delay our response to a level that we would find unacceptable.
We understand that these last 6 weeks have had an effect on the entire community. We remain committed to responding to emergencies, providing the assistance that our townspeople require, because your safety is always our number one priority. In order to do this, we must remain healthy.

When this is all over and the time is right, Ladysmith Fire/Rescue will lead the celebration! Thank you for your understanding,
Please, stay safe and stay healthy,
Chris Geiger, Chief, Ladysmith Fire/Rescue