The Delta Fire Department will be one of the first in the province to provide emergency medicine on the scene as of Monday- but its facing push back from the provincial government.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson says ambulances are taking too long.
“We are waiting in excess of three minutes up to an hour, and in some cases, unfortunately, we have had information that there is no ambulance available to come.”
Fire Chief Dan Copeland says it cost around 120-thousand to train up 120 firefighters.
“It is about providing high quality care to the community that we serve in a timely fashion.”
The thing is- they don’t have approval from BC Emergency Health Services.
Health Minister Terry Lake says there are issues around liability and patient safety.
“The ambulance really is the emergency room on wheels, and you want to make sure from a licensing perspective and a training perspective that that high quality is met.”
Dave Deines with The Ambulance Paramedics of BC alleges firefighters will be acting illegally, and need to be stopped.
“We have numerous concerns, of course one of the biggest is what they are proposing to go forward with on Monday is illegal, it is actually a violation of the health services act.”
George Harvey, Delta Chief Administrative Officer, says it isn’t breaking the law.
“We’ve changed our bylaw to ensure that we are covering ourselves legally, we are following all of the requirements that our lawyers said we must do.”
The union suggests Delta is downloading costs onto the municipality, when ambulances and paramedics is a provincial responsibility.
CKNW has obtained a letter from BC Emergency Health Services to its employees.
It says Delta Firefighters have completed training and licensing to the Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) level and plan to implement their training as of Monday (June 15).
It also says that on May 25th the Municipality of Delta passed a bylaw approving enhanced on-scene emergency medical care by firefighters.
BC Emergency Health Services, which falls under the Provincial Health Services Authority, says it has serious concerns and that many issues haven’t been addressed; like liability.
It says BCEHS staff accepting a patient will not accept any liability for the treatment given by Delta firefighter.
The President of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC has also written a letter to its members expressing concern.
Bronwyn Barter says the underlying issue is a lack of paramedic resources.
She claims there are also legal, liability, licensing, patient and public safety ramifications, and it will look at legal options available to the union.