Mel Andrews uses a special saw to cut into the wreck under the supervision of instructor Chris Chambers. /LAURA KEIL

Members of both Valemount and McBride local fire and rescue crews learned how to wield some mega power tools that save lives this past weekend thanks to Chris Chambers, an auto extrication educator from KGC Fire Rescue in Nanaimo. Over the three-day course, held in the yard next to the Valemount Fire Hall, crews practised cutting into 10 wrecks donated by Ptarmigan Towing and Valemount Auto Rescue. Valemount Fire Chief Rick Lalonde says his department receives an average of 100 calls a year, and highway rescue calls comprise about 60-75 of those. Roughly 15 rescue calls a year require extricating a person or persons from the vehicle, in both summer and winter conditions. He says the pipeline crews will be missed, as they provided aid both in terms of medics and flaggers in a timely way all along the highway corridor. Shown above and below, members of the McBride District Fire Department Denika Lipke, Mitch Lamming, Christian Blixrud, Mel Andrews (Lieutenant) and Courtney Lipke (Deputy Chief). Participating members of the Valemount crew who participated include Billy Davy, Dustin Hammond, Boden Gee, Tobi Gee, and Emma Mintz.