Firefighters approved for increased medical response

Firefighting personnel will receive additional training to treat emergency medical situations.

Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services (CFES) has the legal go-ahead to respond to calls with life-sustaining acts until paramedics arrive on scene.

The legal approval allows CFES, which are under municipal jurisdiction, to provide additional Emergency Medical Response (EMR) services if they are the first responders to a medical emergency.

Under provincial regulation, it is the responsibility of the BC Ambulance Services to provide emergency medical services. Cranbrook is following in the footsteps of Delta, which introduced a bylaw to deliver EMR services.

“Right now, the province of BC does not recommend fire service personnel delivering anything above first responder level,” said CFES Director Wayne Price. “This is a level above the first responder level, so what these communities have done is gone outside the provincial agreement.

“With the first responder process, you sign an agreement with the province to provide that service. They will not provide an agreement for the EMR level, so these communities have decided to just go right through their bylaw and deliver it directly through bylaw.”

Price hopes to have 23 CFES personnel trained for EMR Services by August and implemented in September. There will be a one-time cost of $45,000 to get the program started.

Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt says the EMR training and designation is a potentially life-saving measure.

“I think for our citizens, it’s a safety factor and sometimes it’s a life and death situation,” Pratt said. “It’s not to be disrespectful to the ambulance attendants or paramedics at all; it’s just sometimes the way their system is set up and our system is set up, we’re there first.

“And if there’s something that our guys can be trained to do to save a life, then we should be looking at that.”