HASH(0xbe61e4)

Study on Fort McMurray blaze suggests firefighters still suffering

Study suggests firefighters still suffering

EDMONTON — A new study suggests that those who battled the massive wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., continue to suffer both physically and mentally nearly a year after the blaze devastated the community.

Preliminary results of a University of Alberta report say one in five firefighters who attended the wildfire reported respiratory problems.

One in six has been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

The study analyzed health records of 355 firefighters between six weeks to four months after the fire, which broke out in May 2016.

Participants reported coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath along with mental health challenges.

The fire forced more than 80,000 people in the Fort McMurray area to flee, destroyed more than 2,400 homes and other buildings, and had an estimated financial impact of almost $8.6 billion.

The report aims to offer an in-depth account of what firefighters endured during the months-long effort to quell the blaze and to develop strategies to minimize harm for first responders.

“Obviously it’s taxing. Mentally, physically,” Parkland County deputy fire chief Amber Coleman told CTV News. “Most of us still have that lingering cough, congestion.”

With the first phase of the study complete, researchers plan to focus their second phase on firefighters’ long-term health.

“Many people had access to the gear but by no means did everyone wear it,” said Nicola Cherry, the epidemiologist who led the study. “The second question is about scheduling. Again, if you are a Fort McMurray firefighter and it’s your home being burned down, you’re not going to want to go and take rest breaks and be away from the fire.”

Firefighters are being asked to complete an online survey and share their medical records. The information, which is kept private, is then used to help researchers build a profile of who was affected, pinpoint areas of concern and offer solutions.

The recommendations could cover a gamut of firefighting protocol, from use of proper equipment to reasonable shift changes.

“Is it better to go in for 10 days and then have 10 days off, or is it better to go for two days and then have two days to recover?” Cherry said.

Coleman described the fire as “a war zone” and said that when it came to mental health, some less-experienced firefighters were surprised by the toll.

“I think I was a little bit prepared, whereas maybe some of the newer members weren’t,” she said. “We watched the members to make sure they have the outlet to talk about it, to ask questions, to seek help if they need it.”

The research may prove to be an important reflection for future fires, which have come to be expected in Alberta during the dry summer months.

“It will happen again, and so (we should) prepare for when it does happen again,” Coleman said.

(CTV News)

 

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Foreinger feeling like the first time after 40

Foreigner doesn’t miss a beat after 40 years

Octoberfest is the toast of the town

Eighth annual night of fun, music and brews

Vees lose 4-2 to Wenatchee

The Vees face the Wild again Wednesday, on home ice

Five decades of volunteering

Even though she is approaching 70, Merle kindred continues to volunteer around the world

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Most Read