Many members of the community have asked about our call volumes in 2020 and how they were impacted by the pandemic, so we thought we would share this information broadly.
RMES volunteers responded to 257 calls for service in 2020. Our medical call volume was down compared to previous years, with only 37% of our calls in 2020 being medical in nature. This was in part because of the overall reduction in people being out and about due to the pandemic restrictions, but what also played a factor was the limiting of emergency services resources that went to specific medical calls over a large part of the year. This was an effort by Alberta Health Services to limit the risk of exposure to as few first responders as possible. Rest assured we're back to our normal response modes now and taking every precaution to keep you (and ourselves) safe in every way.
Rescues were our second-most-common call type last year at 30% of the total. Our area has seen prolific growth in popularity for recreation, especially during the pandemic, and that's part of the reason this category has stayed as high as it has. RMES crews have undertaken training with local and regional public safety specialists in order to be better prepared to answer this type of call, and in 2021 we'll be enhancing not only our training but our equipment to handle all kinds of special rescues.
Fires took up about 25% of our responses in 2020. Once again there was a less intense fire season than usual, but we can't let our guard down. In 2021, RMES will continue to promote fire safety and prevention and be leaders in preparedness and safety.
Hazardous materials calls counted for just over 2% of our totals, and include everything from spilled gasoline to odors of natural gas or other substances.
The remaining 6% of calls were 'other' or uncategorizable types. As usual, these were for situations like picking up debris from roadways, and general assistance calls.
In addition to all of the above calls, RMES crews still assembled for training as best as we could given the unique challenges the pandemic presented. Training sessions were delivered online for a large part of the year with members attending via videoconference. When it was safe to assemble in groups once again, the practical lessons based on those online training sessions were put into effect. Still, all of RMES was and is following the public health guidelines and is using best practices in all our operations, both internally and in the public.
RMES members contributed a total of 12,994 hours of service in 2020. As always, we thank our friends and families for supporting us and understanding that even in a year as unique as 2020 was, our commitment can't diminish.
We continue to advocate to Alberta Health Services to have RMES firefighters given priority vaccinations against COVID-19, like our other first responder partners, to ensure they are kept as safe as possible in caring for our community.
A heartfelt THANK YOU to our community for your ongoing support. It’s an honour and privilege to serve you and your families.