Risky ice rescue courses that send firefighters and firefighting students into treacherous, fast-moving currents should be put on hold until they can be performed safely, a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of two Ontario men recommended Thursday.
Jurors looking into what led to the deaths of Gary Kendall, 51, and Adam Brunt, 30, in separate ice rescue training exercises said the province should convene an expert committee to determine whether such training can be carried out in swift water without endangering participants.
The committee should consider what equipment, techniques, locations and standards would be required to bring the risks down to an acceptable level, the jury suggested.
The jury’s 15 recommendations, which are not legally binding, were issued after the inquest heard from multiple witnesses, including fire officials, over more than two weeks.
A spokesman said the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development would be looking closely at the recommendations.
“We also encourage private training operators to ensure they are aware of them as well, including the recommendation to put this kind of training in abeyance until after further government decisions are made,” Murray Gaudreau said Thursday in an email.
“We will continue to review the recommendations and will strive to address the jury’s findings as we implement changes to improve our policies and procedures,” Gaudreau said.
Brunt’s father, Al Brunt, said the recommendations brought some hope that others would be better protected in the future. But he said the real relief will come when the government adopts the jury’s suggested policies.
“The people that are opting to get into first responders as a career deserve to be protected, deserve safety … Just to take a training course they shouldn’t have to put their life on the line and that’s hopefully what these policies, once enacted, will…