Emergency Response Dispatch Issue


Emergency Response Dispatch Issue

Hopefully people are aware of a current issue we are facing at the City around first responder dispatch protocol.

If you aren’t, in May there was a change in the dispatch protocol with 911 calls that if the call goes to Ambulance, they are no longer including the fire department on certain classification of calls.  The call taker will classify the call, based on what they perceive as the extremity of the event and the requirement for response.  If they deem it of a lesser nature, like a slip and fall or dislocated shoulder, they will classify it as lower, or minor, and will respond non emergency.  The fire department will not be notified of the call.

SO – ok, in theory, you might say, that’s a good idea. We don’t need resources tied up on every minor medical call, and we need those others available in case another call comes in.  And I might agree with you … except… we have this problem where the calls are not always categorized properly, and the response time from BCAS can be incredibly slow.  Port Moody Fire Rescue endeavors to respond to a call anywhere in our community with 7-8 minutes and we are resourced to do this, with two firehalls staffed 24/7.   Ambulance response has been noted at times in our community to be as much as 20 minutes or more.  That 12 minute delay could cost someone dearly…

Our firefighters are NOT paramedics. They do not carry a lot of the equipment and medication that paramedics to.  But they are trained and certified first responders.  They can administer CPR.  They carry Naloxone.  They are often required on calls to assist paramedics with lifting patients or entering confined or difficult access areas.  They are trained and they are professional – and what we really can’t understand is, WHY would you NOT ask them to respond to a call ? Why not at least give US the option, as the City/Fire Department, if WE think we need to respond. If we are busy and it is a non emergency, then maybe we won’t.  But – maybe- as has happened – the call isn’t what it first appears to be.  MAYBE the fire rescue response can provide additional comfort to a resident while they wait for an ambulance.  MAYBE they can save a life.

This isn’t hypothetical.  THEY HAVE !

I think we deserve that.

Although the ambulance service has been quite adamant that they won’t be changing the protocol, we were able this week, along with our IAFF executives, to have a discussion on this matter directly with the Premier, at the UBCM.  Premier Horgan has many relatives in the first responder professions, including paramedic and fire rescue, and we know he understands the importance of first response.  We know the Premier doesn’t personally make these decisions, but we were happy to be able to make him aware, directly, of our concerns and think this will help us find a resolution that ensures our residents receive the highest level of safety.  Councillors Dilworth, Royer, Junker, Lahti and myself, along with Dave and Wade from the department, were pleased to have this opportunity and also to talk with many other departments and cities about the issues in their communities.



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Mike Clay

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