The RDEK is working out the logistics of accepting a donation of an emergency response trailer designed specifically for attending accident scenes that involve livestock and animals.
The trailer contains equipment such as livestock panels and halters, personal safety equipment and medical supplies, all of which could be necessary in the event of a livestock trailer accident or an emergency situation such as a flood or wildfire.
Cory Lepine, the B.C. RCMP Livestock Coordinator, made the presentation to the RDEK on behalf of the B.C. Emergency Response Livestock Trailer Steering Committee, comprised of industry stakeholders such as B.C. Association of Cattle Feeders and others.
Lepine said the steering committee fundraised for the trailers, which they envision to eventually have a network across the province.
“We want to make sure that people understand that in the agricultural business that we care about our animals and we want to make sure they’re safe,” Lepine said. “Unfortunately, transportation is a necessity of the business and stuff gets moved around, but we want to make sure it’s moved around properly and if an incident were to happen, we’re able to deal with it in a safe, humane and good manner for the animals.”
Between 55-60 livestock liners a day are passing through Sparwood, en route between the B.C., Alberta and American borders, which carries a dollar value of roughly $4 million per day.
“Since December of last year up until last week, there have been four cattle liner rollovers in the Regional District area, between the Alberta border near Sparwood, primarily in the Jaffray area,” said Lepine.
A pair of serious cattle liner rollovers nearly 10 years ago near Prince George got industry and police thinking about how they can more effectively respond to those types of situations, said Lepine.
“Ultimately, we’ve determined — through the steering committee that we have in place — that this area is the prime area for it, just because of the number of traffic that goes through here,” Lepine said.
The proposal was met with enthusiasm at the regional district board table, however, it was referred to staff in order to identify and solve some logistical issues, mainly over where to store it and which department should be responsible for it.
Rob Gay, the chair of the RDEK board, noted concerns about overloading volunteer firefighters with the responsibilities of attending to human trauma at accident scenes as well as dealing with injured livestock.
“We’ve got to have a discussion on that, because you can only do so much,” Gay said. “…and as the gentleman from the RCMP said this morning, many people get hurt because they’re not used to livestock, so it’s people who have been raised on the ranch and — in our case — members of the Kootenay Livestock Association that could do that.
“But certainly the trailers, to have all the equipment in there and the corrals and whatnot, to prepare for these emergencies is very acceptable and we look forward to that.”
Stan Doehle, the director for Area B, said the Kootenay Livestock Association has been working on getting a trailer in the area for a while.
“It’s a great offer to our communities out there and we look forward to moving that along,” he said.