SURREY, BC, May 19, 2016 /CNW/ - The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) is calling on the management of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to explain why members who were deployed to the Fort McMurray wildfires were not provided with sufficient masks or given proper supervision to avoid breathing in toxic fumes for days on end.
"It appears there was yet another system failure where RCMP members were deployed to Fort McMurray without the proper protective equipment to protect them against toxic fumes. RCMP management had the capability to equip and protect all these members, and they have failed," said MPPAC President Rae Banwarie, who is working with RCMP members on this issue. "Listening to the RCMP members' stories about being deployed to Fort McMurray in this un-coordinated manner sounded like a nightmare."
The RCMP has the capability to deploy members to emergency situations with military-standard masks. These advanced masks cover and protect eyes, are sealed to the face, allow the wearer to drink water safely and are the best-in-class in preventing chemicals and particles from seeping through to the user. Unfortunately, during this emergency situation, this was not done, but instead a limited quantity of 3M Model 2097 masks were made available.
"I was basically on my own to find a mask, after being told there were no masks left," said one member who spent more than five days in the raging fires. "After one day, I was able to get a paper dust mask, which did nothing to protect my eyes, throat or lungs. In the Beacon Hill area, where I was deployed, we were exposed to a haze of smoke for five days. We were in the thick of it. We were standing in the midst of burning cars, houses, trailers, and watching explosions of man-made products — the fumes can be very carcinogenic. After the first day I was puking and my eyes were burning. All I was wearing was this paper dust mask. I felt light-headed and sick for the next week."
In addition to a lack of proper masks, many members were not provided with medical examinations following their deployment to the fires, which should have been a mandatory protocol by RCMP management.
"There's a litany of examples where Commissioner Paulson has shown poor judgement and provided ineffective responses, which is why MPPAC has twice called for his removal as Commissioner," said media spokesperson Terry McKee. "This is yet another clear absence of leadership for Canada's national police force."
MPPAC is calling on RCMP's management to immediately supply the appropriate safety equipment to RCMP members deployed to Fort McMurray, and to ensure medical examinations are completed for all the members who put their lives and health on the line during this tragedy. MPPAC strongly encourages all members who were exposed in Fort McMurray to submit a hazardous occurrence report (form 3414). In addition, MPPAC urges all exposed members to undergo a thorough medical examination similar to that of the Fort McMurray firefighters. (see below link) In our opinion it is imperative to create a base line test by providing blood and urine samples to physicians to document any future health issues that may occur. Our membership have encountered health issues in the past that were directly related to the fires in Kelowna, BC and we (MPPAC) have successfully assisted members with VAC claims.
SOURCE Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC)
For further information: Terry McKee, Media Relations, Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, T: (506) 850-3907, E: firstname.lastname@example.org