The History of Emergency Services in Tumbler Ridge

FIRE DEPARTMENT: Since the town incorporation, certain services were necessary to support the potential growth of the newest community in British Columbia. Tumbler Ridge did not go long without very impressive services right within the town.

A few key dates regarding Emergency Services, although some services such as Fire Department and RCMP did not have buildings, the forces were firmly in place. Now if only they had a building?

While the Fire Department, then headed by Fire Chief John Wyatt was actually established in June of 1982, it wasn?t until a year later that the current Fire Hall opened its doors. There were 12 members of the original volunteer department, 9 men and 3 women. At that time the Fire Department had one squad truck (rescue and mini-pumper) which was equipped with the jaws of life. They awaited a Class A Pumper later that year.

Currently the Fire Department has 23 members, 18 men and five women. For equipment they have five vehicles: Command (Acting Chief?s truck); Squad; Engine 5; Rescue; and Ladder. Dan Golob is our current Fire Chief.

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Anyone who would complain that it takes a long time for the police to come now, should be grateful compared to yesteryear! When the town was born, the RCMP calls were handled out of Dawson Creek, on a four day in and four day out basis. Talk about organized crime, you would have had to schedule carefully.

It wasn?t until June 1, 1983 that two permanent members were sent to Tumbler Ridge and a detachment formed. Originally working out of a trailer, the RCMP moved into the current RCMP building on April 13, 1984.

The members of the RCMP in Tumbler Ridge are rotated on a staggered basis every four years to and from other communities. This includes Detachment Commander, who is currently Corporal Kurt Peats.


Sponsored by the Province of British Columbia, the first ambulance services started up January 3, 1983 with 13 trained Tumbler Ridge residents, headed by Unit Chief Don Toth. The group responded to an average of 6 calls per month, predominantly transfers to Dawson Creek. There was one ambulance.

Today the ambulance service is provided by BC Ambulance and just recently the Paramedic Chief position was awarded to Brian Wylie. There are 8 paramedics and two ambulances.


The Health Centre in downtwn Tumbler Ridge, directly across from the Post Office, was officially opened in January 1994, however had been in use since octoner 1983.

The origin of the centre was a plan put into place by the Peace River Liard Regional District to be used as a one-stop health services building. At the time, the building was office to Doctor, X-ray Laboratory, Dentist, Optometrist, Public Health, Ministry of Human Resources, Day Care, Alcohol and Drug Counseling and Mental Health Counseling. Of those services remaining, we currently have Doctor, X-Ray Laboratory, Public Health and Family Counseling has replaced the other categories of counseling. Among other acquisitions, the Health Cente now was Laboratory blood services and a mammogram machine.

Our current physicians are Dr. Charles Helm and Dr. Crisman Louw. Emergency Room Head Nurse is Barb Schuerkamp. There are scheduled visiting doctors and optometrist as well


The heart and soul of Emergency Social services is Jerrilyn Schembri. Seeing the need for these services in our community, she took it upon herself to initiate an ESS program and has been at the helm as ESS Director since 1997. While she has had help intermittently from others, this organization is much needed, as was evident during the recent evacuation due to fire in July 2006. The information and planning protocols necessary for smooth evacuation procedures was in large part, due to Schembri?s attention to it.

Implementation of evacuation procedures goes both was. Schembri notes that she feels the most significant ways that ESS has helped others was in both the fire evacuation and also the evacuation from neighbouring camps, etc. into Tumbler Ridge during the floods in 2000. She is proud of her work with ESS and would like to see it taken on with even more importance. She says, ?I would like to see ESS continue to gow and be instrumental in Emergency Preparedness Education.?

C.O.P.S. & M.O.P.S.

C.O.P.S. (Citizens on Patrol Society and Community Operated Police Services) are well known nation-wide for their assistance to police services both is rural and urban centers. C.O.P.S. was not an established organization in the early says of Tumbler Ridge, however the first steps taken to organize this group in town were done so by Jerrilyn Schembri as part of as assignment in her training for ESS.

The actual information of C.O.P.S. sdid not take place until mid-2000?s with Ed Theide on charge. Just this past year Janet Delpierre took over as Chair for the organization. ?C.O.P.S. is a patrol group whose mission is to be the eyes and ears of the community.? It is also their function to report to R.C.M.P. in circumstances where they might not be aware of potential danger or crime in the community.

Constable Josh Buck, formerly of Tumbler Ridge, was instrumental in the running of C.O.P.S. and dedicated much of his time and efforts to both C.O.P.S. and youth communication.

On an amusing yet equally admirable note, when C.O.P.S. was not a formed group in this community, several parents took it upon themselves to monitor the community on their own. Rose Colledge was among those Northern women who patrolled the neighbourhoods as part of M.O.P.S. (Mothers On Patrol Society) between the years of 1997-2003. A concerned mother behind the wheel, seeking out prdators is indeed an effective terror mechanism.


Regrettably TR News was unable to interview for TR Search & Rescue due to time constraints before going to press. We apologize for any emergency groups and organizations we may have missed, as this was unintentional.