“A collision involving a bus and a semi….”
Reports of a bus crash near Kerrobert began to filter out to the public as many in Saskatchewan sat down to supper on Friday, September 14. They were hard words to hear as so many are still reeling after the events of April 6, 2018, when a collision between a bus and a semi near Nipawin left 16 people on the Humboldt Broncos Junior A hockey club bus dead, and 13 more injured.
According to Saskatchewan RCMP, at approximately 4:26 p.m. on September 14, an eastbound semi hauling two trailers of canola on Hwy 51/21 collided with a converted school bus travelling southeast on Hwy 31 at an intersection near the community of Kerrobert. The bus came to rest on its side in the north ditch, and the semi stopped near the centre of Hwy 31.
The bus was owned and operated by O.J. Pipelines, and was transporting 15 workers and the driver from a worksite to Kindersley when their bus was struck by a grain truck at the rural intersection.
By the time the public started hearing about the crash, health care providers and first responders in the Kerrobert area had already sprung into action.
While police, fire, ground ambulance and STARS teams rushed to the scene of the crash, doctors, nurses and other health care providers raced to their facilities with the expectation of receiving a large number of patients very quickly.
News of the collision reached the Kerrobert and District Health Centre just minutes after it occurred, and the hospital immediately activated its Code Orange - its emergency response to a large number of incoming casualties. Physicians and extra staff were called in; other health care providers heard about what happened and came to the facility to offer their assistance.
Staff who took part in the September 14 Mass Casualty Incident just outside of the town of Kerrobert pose at the
“Triage Status Board” that was used during the event. From left: Gord Merkel, CLXT; Kerri Zerr, RN; Jen Shepherd, LPN and Faye Kruesel, AHN.
Some staff looked after long term care patients and inpatients in acute care so that others could look after and triage patients incoming from the crash. Diagnostics staff also assisted with the incoming patients.
Many of the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) teams in the area – Kerrobert, Dodsland, Kindersley, Unity, Wilkie and Biggar EMS – responded to the crash directly, triaged clients, and transported the patients to a number of hospitals in the area. Other EMS units in Eston, Unity, Macklin, Biggar and Rosetown were covering other calls in the area during that time, and crews in Outlook and Davidson were prepared to come in if more assistance was needed.
In the end, to the relief of everyone in the province, the crash was not as severe as that involving the Broncos. There were no fatalities, and a total of 10 patients were taken to hospitals in neighboring communities before some of them were transferred to Saskatoon. By the following day, the majority had been discharged, and none were in life-threatening condition.
Incidentally, staff in Kerrobert had recently updated their Code Orange plan this summer, and just the day before, reviewed it with the local Occupational Health and Safety committee. They had even done a Code Orange drill. This preparation ensured that everyone knew their roles, and everything flowed smoothly.
“Everything worked like it should,” says Gloria Park, Care Team Manager at Kerrobert and District Health Centre. “It’s so important to practice these codes – it definitely helps when something happens. Everyone is just able to jump into action and know what they are supposed to do.”
“The response of the Kerrobert and District Health Centre staff and the coordinated efforts with EMS, police and fire was not just a test of your knowledge, but a true example of the amazing job each of you did in pulling together to ensure smooth delivery of efficient, quality health care services,” Park said in a message to the Kerrobert staff on September 18.
“Everybody just came together,” Park notes. “Our staff, our physicians, the staff and physicians of other facilities in our area and in Saskatoon, played their parts to ensure delivery of care to everyone who needed it that night, including the other patients and residents in our health centre.”
“Our emergency response staff and partners did an incredible job of responding to and managing this Mass Casualty Incident,” says Krista Remeshylo, Director of EMS in the area.
EMS Kerrobert EMS staff From left: Angela Waters, Jenna Johnson,Elizabeth Hiebert
“Our EMS services and EMS Communications Centre (Medavie) worked together to coordinate the on-scene medical response. EMS and STARS provided assessment, triage, care and transportation of patients. The fire department and RCMP managed scene security, extrication of patients and assisted with providing care. Everyone had a role to play and carried out their jobs professionally. The emergency response teams on scene and in the facilities have once again shown us how they can pull together and respond when faced with such challenging circumstances, they deserve all the credit.”
The Saskatchewan Health Authority provided support on many different levels to the teams in Kerrobert and surrounding area that night, as well as throughout the following weekend.
“Our health care providers and first responders mobilized quickly to care for those involved in this crash,” says Scott Livingstone, CEO of Saskatchewan Health Authority. “We are so incredibly grateful to all of our teams for their service in helping their patients and each other. We also appreciate the efforts of all those who provided assistance off-site to the staff and physicians. As one organization, we can better provide supports to smaller communities right across the province.”
Enbridge has expressed their deep appreciation for the efforts of all the emergency services and health care professionals in the Kerrobert area following the crash.
“It’s comforting to know that when an accident happens, like the one that occurred between a semi hauling grain and one of our construction crew buses, we can count on a rapid, effective and well-coordinated response from local first responders,” says Dave Lawson, a vice president with Enbridge, the company that owns the project near Kerrobert. “I’ve been told that the accident scene was quickly in the control of the police and fire departments, and the injured were promptly assessed, dispatched and treated on an urgent basis. I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to all of the area emergency services, hospitals and health-care professionals for their dedication, compassion and professionalism. Our deepest thanks for a job well done.”
Enbridge, the company that owns the project near Kerrobert, sent a letter of thanks to local emergency services and
health care staff for their efforts related to the crash on September 14.