(Canadian OH&S News) — A male soldier with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was injured and hospitalized in a training accident that occurred at the army’s Wainwright, Alta. base on Oct. 19.
A CAF press release noted that the incident had occurred during nighttime live-fire training. Few specific details about the accident have been released to the public, but the CAF did state that the victim had been transported to a local hospital for immediate treatment and then transferred to another hospital in Edmonton. No update on the soldier’s condition has been released, although he did notify his next of kin of the injury.
“They were using live rounds, and you can make whatever logical conclusions you want from that,” said Fraser Logan, media-operations officer with the CAF’s 3rd Canadian Division, adding that the specifics of the injury and medical condition are considered personal information under the federal Privacy Act.
Logan said that the victim was a member of the third battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton.
The CAF’s National Investigative Service, an arm of the military police unit, is investigating the incident. At the moment, police are treating the soldier’s injury as a training accident and do not suspect any foul play, the CAF release noted.
“No idea where they are with it,” said Logan, referring to the ongoing investigation.
Logan explained that the case could potentially reach a military Board of Inquiry if it has to be reinvestigated. “Its sole job is to investigate every detail and figure out what happened that led to this and what could we do to make sure this never happens again,” he said about the Board. “It’s an internal investigation meant so we do our jobs better. Was it the system that went wrong? Was it something that the member did? Those sorts of things are looked at.”
In a press statement sent out on Oct. 20, Brigadier-General Wayne Eyre, commander of the 3rd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force West, stressed the necessity of using live rounds in military training exercises.
“Safely conducted live-fire training is essential for ensuring our soldiers are ready for operations around the world,” said Eyre. “The Canadian Armed Forces takes training accidents extremely seriously, and this incident is being fully investigated in order to reduce future risk.
“In the meantime, our thoughts are with the soldier and his family for a speedy recovery.”
Logan noted that these kinds of accidents are rare in army training, even when live fire is used. “We prepare for every eventuality as much as we can. The whole point of training is that we train very hard in a very controlled environment,” he said, adding that combat training exercises always have safety officers present – officers “whose sole job is just to make sure that if they observe something that’s potentially going to turn into something very unsafe, that they stop whatever’s going on immediately.
“Safety is paramount. We try to get as close as we can to the real thing, as safely as possible.”
Located about 210 kilometres east of Edmonton, the CAF Wainwright detachment includes the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre and the 3rd Canadian Division Training Centre. The base is the preferred training ground for local army field force units, according to information from the CAF.