Arnprior – An Ottawa firefighter died on July 27 following a tragic parachuting incident near the Arnprior airport.
Jeffrey Dean, 45, of Fitzroy Harbour, was identified by Fire Chief Paul Hutt on that frantic afternoon.
At 12:40 p.m. a 911 call was placed indicating there was a skydiving accident at Parachute Ottawa, located at 615 Johnston Rd. near the boat ramp at Lake Madawaska. The caller stated there were serious injuries.
Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were first on scene and set up a perimeter in order to preserve the location and redirect traffic from the property that is adjacent to the airport.
One of the unidentified bystanders attempted to treat Mr. Dean who was unconscious at the time.
The Renfrew County Paramedic Service (RCPS) immediately dispatched an ambulance and a Community Paramedic unit was in the vicinity as was the on-Duty Commander who all responded minutes after police arrived.
Paramedic Chief Michael Nolan said there are some unknowns when responding to this type of incident.
“When we receive a call for a skydiving incident we have no idea initially how many people are involved so we dispatch multiple units in the event we are dealing with multiple casualties over a wide area,” he said. “In this case there was one fatality and it is sad when these events happen. On behalf of our service we extend our deepest sympathies to those involved.”
Chief Nolan said upon arrival Mr. Dean was unconscious and although paramedics spent several minutes attempting to revive him, he succumbed to his injuries shortly thereafter.
“When we arrived on scene and determined there was only one person injured, both the efforts of bystanders and our paramedics to resuscitate were unsuccessful and the paramedic pronounced him deceased as a result of multi-system trauma.”
Neither a spokesperson for Parachute Ottawa, the company that owns and operates the business, or a representative from the Arnprior Airport were commenting at that time.
Chief Nolan added it is rare to respond to skydiving incidents since there have been very few in the area over the years. He said when paramedics respond to a skydiving scene, there are often catastrophic scenes and paramedics, along with bystanders, and those directly involved with the event can be “triggered” by the event and can be psychologically affected.
“Whenever we have a significant event, and skydiving fatalities is a significant event, we have a debrief with our crews and that allows any concerns to be raised,” he said. “We go on a case-by-case basis, and sometimes a crew member may step away voluntarily. Skydiving, like any rugged high-intensity activity, comes with inherent risks and sometimes tragic events like this take place. And sometimes it can affect some of those involved.”
Chief Hutt sent out a message to all members of the service and residents of Ottawa late on that Wednesday afternoon.
“It is with great sadness that I announce we've lost one of our own today. Firefighter Jeffrey Dean, Station 12-C, was a beloved member of the Ottawa Fire Services. I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and his fire family during this difficult time.”
Mr. Dean was married with two children.
Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
Bruce Mcintyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader