“Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail” – Reminder from Mark Cooke at London Arborist Day, 2015
As vehicles pulled into the Talbotville Optimist Park on May 6th, 2015, they were greeted by the sight of two new stumpers, a skidder, a chipper and a shiny new 70′ aerial spider lift. Tables were covered in ropes, helmets, ascension clamps, sickles, harnesses, throw bags, safety glasses and even sunscreen to tempt the arborists who had come to take part in the London Arborist Day put on by Vermeer Canada. It was the first time that a training day had been held in Southwestern Ontario and 20 companies signed up to take part in the Aerial Rescue and Training Day.
CLC Tree Services, led by Calvin McCallum, was just one of those tree services companies.
While there are risks in any industry, arboriculture has some unique safety issues. There are dangers due to falls, electrocution, punctures, tears, chainsaw wounds, and more. The nature of the industry is such that when an injury happens, it can be very dangerous and quick thinking is key. More importantly though is knowing what to do in an emergency. Which is why Mark Cooke was there.
Mark Cooke is the lead instructor with Arboriculture Canada. A certified member of the ISA since 1997, he is well-suited to the job of teaching best practices in health and safety in the arboriculture industry. He is personable, approachable, but more importantly, extremely knowledgeable about what to do in emergency situations in the field. He encouraged questions and critical thinking throughout his presentation and demonstrated hands-on techniques to use in emergency situations.
Throughout the day, the focus was on safety. Mark hammered home that safety begins long before you ever get into a tree. It starts with education, proper gear (not your lucky beaner that you’ve had for 15 years!), assessment of the task at hand, properly filled out paperwork before a job begins, and even the knowledge of your crew’s health. Trucks should have fully stocked first aid kits, but individual crew members should also carry their own kits (a fanny pack can hold personal first-aid essentials). He noted that if you get stuck in a tree, you are your own first line of defence. Self-rescue can make the difference in an emergency. Especially if rescue crews are hampered by time, rescue systems or equipment.
During breaks, people had the opportunity to network, purchase gear and inspect the larger equipment on hand. Ben Parkin, the Vermeer Canada London Territory Manager, was just one of the reps on hand to answer any questions people had. While Melisa Talsma, Vermeer’s Marketing Coordinator, was happy to take customer’s money, she also reminded everyone that they received a 10% discount on anything purchased as a show special. And she reminded Certified Arborists that they would receive 6 Continued Education Units (CEU) towards their minimum of 30 required over 3 years for recertification. Plus, any profits made on the day, after the cost of lunch, would be donated to Tree Fund Canada.
All great reasons to be there. For the men in attendance, there was much to think about and potential practices to re-examine. As Melisa handed out evaluation forms, she had plenty to be happy about; over 100 people had shown up, general consensus of the day was good, and the sun had won out over the threat of rain by the end of the day. Best of all though, a few safer arborists were headed back out into Southwestern Ontario to tend to the trees in their domains.
And we should all be pleased about that.