First, I was delighted to learn that Dion Lefebevre is being recognized with an award for heroism. Just over two years ago in a tragic and unforgettable collision on Highway 63 that claimed seven lives Dion pulled two children from the wreckage. One of the two was one of the only two survivors of the crash, and the other, a young woman not much younger than the Intrepid Junior Blogger, eventually succumbed to her injuries. This collision changed the trajectory of many lives, having a tremendous impact on the family, friends, colleagues of those in the collision as well as on the entire community. I would suspect one of the others most deeply impacted was Dion, as I know others who have been first-on-scene after such collisions and the effects of seeing such sights and being one of the first to respond to those in distress are long lasting. I have had the great honour of meeting Dion, a humble man who rejects the title “hero” (although he clearly is one) and seeing him one of three Canadians to be honoured with a Carnegie Medal for his heroism is gratifying, although I continue to be so very, very sad that the collision in which he displayed his heroism occurred at all.Second, I followed with avid interest last night as Phoenix Heli-Flight unveiled their new medevac helicopter, one designed to ensure the timely 24/7 access to emergency medical care for the residents of this region. Paul Spring of Phoenix has been tireless in his efforts to secure funding for this service, finally reaching an agreement with industry and the municipality to ensure this service remains viable for another year. Alberta Health Services, while they continue to pay on a fee-for-service basis, continues to review the request to provide funding for this service and I anticipate – and expect – a successful result from that deliberation as while the wheels of government grind slowly I believe the decision to contribute to the funding for this service is the correct one. Just as Dion Lefebvre is a hero so too is Paul Spring, as they both know what it is like to put it all on the line to save the lives of others.
The third story is where this all takes a bit of a darker turn. When I read this story I was deeply saddened, as part of the reason we need heroes like Paul and Dion are because of people who act in ways that endanger the lives of others, particularly on our local roadways and highways. The recent traffic blitz that netted several offenders, including several impaired drivers, is deeply worrisome because as long as those drivers are out on the roads we are going to continue to need heroes like Paul and Dion.I am willing to bet that Dion wishes he had never had to pull children from burning automotive wreckage. I am certain Paul wishes he never had to land his shiny new chopper at the scene of an automotive collision. In fact I think these two heroes, and others like them, would be quite happy if their heroism was never required or relied on to save the lives of others, but the sad reality is that we continue to behave in manners which create more victims and the need for more heroes. We drive much too fast or recklessly or drunk. We endanger our own lives and the lives of others, forcing people like Paul and Dion to risk their own lives to save us. We praise our heroes, just as we should as they are without a doubt brave and selfless and so worthy of praise , but then we climb into our cars and seem to forget that the best way to thank these heroes is to change our own behaviour so they never need to be heroes again.
Today I express my tremendous gratitude to Dion, Paul, and all the others who are first on the scene at collisions, whether they are there by circumstance or because it is part of their profession to do so. I am so grateful to them for their heroism, their commitment to their fellow man and for risking their own lives to save the lives of others. The best way to show my gratitude, though, is to take some simple steps to ensure I never need their services: reduce my speed, drive with care and never, ever drive if I have been drinking. These three disparate stories are indeed interconnected, just as we all are in this community, and we each have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other and to our heroes. I simply hope we can live up to it.