MPPAC’s Intervention In The Fort McMurray Wildfires Led To Enhanced Member Healthcare

May 27th, 2016 Media Release

As a result of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada’s (MPPAC) early intervention, a directive was issued by K Division HQ in Edmonton directing all members who have been exposed to the Wood Buffalo wildfires to attend a specific respiratory specialist. This is a good step forward, however, safety concerns still linger and MPPAC is calling for a review of emergency protocols and procedures in emergency situations like this.

“MPPAC raised attention last week to the fact that many of the RCMP first responders sent to the Fort McMurray wildfires were not provided with adequate protection from fire, smoke, debris and airborne particles, and were not required to seek medical evaluation immediately,” said MPPAC President Rae Banwarie.  “While we are encouraged by these initial first steps, we continue to hear from members who have raised additional health concerns. MPPAC is prepared to work with RCMP management and assist in a review of emergency protocols to ensure members are clear about what is expected of them in situations like these.”

The recent directive issued by K Division HQ in Edmonton requires all members exposed to the wildfires to seek respiratory testing.

MPPAC recognizes that many RCMP members have undergone training and have been equipped for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) situations, but it appears that these members were not deployed as a priority. MPPAC questions why this protocol was not utilized for the Fort McMurray wildfire. We respectfully ask processes be put place that reflect the current climate of health care such as the proactive approach of our partners.

These are unfortunate circumstances for everyone and we can benefit from the professionals who have been studying these incidents extensively for years.

 “I, like all of my co-workers, was trained with CBRN equipment and for response. This equipment was not available to us said an RCMP Constable, currently posted to Fort McMurray. Paper N95 masks were eventually distributed, however, these did not provide adequate filtration of the air; which according to the air quality index was at an extremely hazardous level. It should be noted that while in training we were advised we would all have access to the proper equipment including gas masks and respirators with proper filters.”

Videos from the wildfires clearly confirm RCMP members without masks or with masks that did not offer the proper protection. In addition, these members were not wearing any fire retardant apparel, as can be seen on videos here (time code 1:37) and here (time code 1:17, 2:37, and 18:16).

MPPAC hopes to work with RCMP management to ensure the safety and well being of all RCMP members.

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For more information contact:

Terry McKee
Media Relations
Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada
Association Canadienne de la Police Montée Professionelle
T: (506) 850-3907 • E: