Oshawa’s MPP Jennifer French wants the provincial government to regulate the private safety training industry following the death of two people while doing a training exercise at Herschel Rescue, a private training company.
Durham College firefighting student Adam Brunt died Feb. 8 after falling through the ice on the Saugeen River in Hanover while taking the ice water certification course with Herschel Rescue as an extra course outside of Durham College’s program.
A similar incident occurred January, 2010 when Point Edward volunteer firefighter Gary Kendall died while on course with Herschel.
French says she’s calling for a regulation to assist with the health and safety of participants.
“Firefighters dedicate their lives to our safety,” she says. “Health and safety is everyone’s concern.”
If the courses are regulated, everything will be standardized. Students can ensure the instructors have the proper qualifications and expertise, French says.
She adds nothing is standardized yet.
The owner of Herschel Rescue, Terry Harrison supports the idea but thinks it will be hard to do so.
“If being regulated would make technical rescue response by emergency personnel more safe and efficient, more funds for researching better methods, and better equipment for all types of rescue, I am definitely in favour,” says Terry Harrison owner of Herschel Rescue.
But he doesn’t think being regulated is possible.
“It’s not just rescue training it would involve,” Harrison says, “Every industry, truck/forklift, heavy equipment, hairdressing, beauty school or training company would fall under this regulation.”
According to the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, courses offered by safety training companies are considered a part of the single-skill training industry and are not covered by the Private Career Colleges Act.
“It’s a grey area,” French says. “We can’t have anybody not under a protective umbrella.”
She says we need to keep our students protected.
Stephanie Ball, dean of Durham College’s School of Emergency and Justice Services, agrees keeping students safe is a priority.
“Anything that improves the safety of any student whether it’s a student at Durham College or someone from the public who’s taking this additional training we would fully support that and always support additional safety precautions,” Ball says.
The added safety will help students who take these courses stand out to an employer, Ball believes.