Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nothing Could Have Been Done to Prevent Firefighter's Death, Inquest Hears

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nothing Could Have Been Done to Prevent Firefighter's Death, Inquest Hears

Article excerpt

Training death happened 'in seconds,' inquest hears

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TORONTO - A firefighter trainer involved in an ice rescue exercise that claimed the life of a southern Ontario man seven years ago says there's nothing he would have done differently during the course.

Terry Harrison told a coroner's inquest Thursday that even if a rapid intervention team -- a group of first responders dedicated to helping firefighters in distress -- had been on hand for the January 2010 course, it would not have prevented the event's tragic outcome.

"That whole situation happened in seconds," he said.

Rapid intervention teams are often present during training exercises because they are well rested and thus better able to help in case of crisis, the inquest heard.

But Harrison testified such a team would not have been able to reach the river location in Point Edward, Ont., where Gary Kendall went under in time.

The inquest is looking into the circumstances surrounding Kendall's death and another similar incident in Hanover, Ont., five years later that claimed the life of Adam Brunt, a 30-year-old firefighting student.

Harrison, a firefighter who owns and operates a private safety training company, was present both times, though his role in the Point Edward incident is under dispute.

The jury has heard that Kendall was trapped under a fast-moving ice floe after the training group was told to swim out and climb it. He died in hospital the next day.

Many at the inquest have asked whether firefighters should be trained to conduct rescue operations in icy, swift water given the safety risks and the low chance of success.

Both Harrison and the Point Edward fire chief have said they believe the training is necessary, though the chief, Doug MacKenzie, stressed the need for more oversight.

While on the stand earlier Thursday, MacKenzie said the province should regulate private safety training companies and legislate safety standards for ice rescue operations. …

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