By Laura King
June 17, 2015, Toronto - Yesterday, I wrote about a proposal by Ontario’s unionized firefighters to become fire-medics, to expand their services to include symptom relief and certain fairly simple procedures.
In Langley, B.C., Monday night, Mayor Lois Jackson read a statement about the adoption of the Delta fire regulation bylaw, which authorizes firefighters who are licenced to emergency medical responder to provide enhanced pre-hospital medical care.
And in Vancouver yesterday, Fire Chief John McKearney said he wants firefighters trained to provide medical care while patients wait for an ambulance.
Other British Columbia firefighters already provide advanced on-scene medical care – in Prince George, Sun Peaks and Big White – as part of a pilot project.
Delta’s mayor says she, along with Fire Chief Dan Copeland and fire-service members, have worked with BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) for more than two years to establish a patient-focused emergency response protocol. Firefighters would be able to maintain IVs and give pain medications.
“Unfortunately, BCEHS has refused to sign the agreement,” the mayor said in the statement, which was posted last night on the city’s web page.
Council found away around that, having passed an amendment to the Delta fire regulation bylaw, which designs an ancillary health service. The mayor says the plan allows firefighters to provide enhanced pre-hospital care.
BCEHS is having no part of it.
According to Global News, BCEHS wrote a letter to Delta Fire and Emergency Services: “Delta has taken these actions unilaterally [and] BCEHS does not support these initiatives and has serious concerns about their implementation,” said Jodi Jensen, chief operating officer.
“It is BCEHS’ position that the Municipality of Delta is not acting in accordance with the Emergency Health Services Act and the Regulation.”
The paramedics union doesn’t like the situation either, saying there are issues about liability and licencing. It also says the employer shouldn’t dispatch the first responders knowing that what they’re doing is illegal.
So, things are a bit messy. As they may become in Ontario given that the province has a proposal for fire-medics from the firefighters union that it has not shared with municipalities or the fire chiefs association, and the paramedics are cranky – I’m still waiting to hear from Ontario Paramedics Association president Geoff MacBride.
Meantime, Winnipeg firefighters union president Alex Forrest posted congratulations to the City of Delta on Facebook last night. Winnipeg, of course, runs a fully integrated fire-paramedic service and advised the Delta group.
“Its all about emergency medical care for patients in a timely manner,” Forrest said.
“Its all about teamwork between the firefighters and ambulance for the best patient care possible.”