Re: Crews ‘haven’t kept pace,’ April 17.
In my role as a first responder, I have experienced that patient care and comfort make a difference to patients and their loved ones.
In the research BC Emergency Healthy Services reports to have completed, patient comfort is not a consideration, nor is the effect of first responders, as their measures begin with the arrival of BC Ambulance Service (BCAS).
A third-party research paper recently completed by the University of Fraser Valley (UFV) evaluates the response times of BCAS and fire to medical calls.
The Surrey Fire Department follows the code 2 or “routine response” protocols as determined by the BCAS dispatch. Surrey Fire Department does not deviate in any manner as implied in the story.
As you state, the protocol changes are contentious, but you don’t acknowledge that is for good reason.
I have witnessed firsthand the lower level of patient care. As indicated by the UFV research, the gap in response time has not been created by fire unnecessarily rushing to 35 per cent of the calls.
I cannot speak for all municipalities, but in Surrey we are conforming to the changes and following BCAS protocols on emergency and non-emergency calls.
BCEHS safety director George Papadoupolous’s statement that there would be no difference in delay time if first responders went ‘routine’ is untrue. Both Surrey and Vancouver have been responding ‘routine,’ and both have experienced delays roughly double to what was previous.
BCEHS attempts to justify the controversial changes in protocols by suggesting patients that are known to be worst case receive more rapid response. What of the patients that are not known to be worst case by telephone diagnosis, patient conditions deteriorating or scene hazards that we find on our arrival?
I sincerely hope the attention drawn to this matter will result in truly objective measures that result in better patient care; before now, that has not been the case.
In my view, if BCEHS does not value a greater role for first responders, the alternative is adding more ambulances on the street – which may not be the most efficient or effective use of resources.
Mike McNamara, president,
Surrey Fire Fighters Association