Bri­gade says no to med­i­cal calls

Bay Roberts chief con­cerned ex­tra du­ties would be too tax­ing for vol­un­teers

The Compass - - P2011ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

In­sur­ance con­cerns

Fire lane mon­i­tor­ing

The Bay Roberts Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment will not be ex­pand­ing its emer­gency re­sponse ca­pa­bil­i­ties to in­clude med­i­cal calls, said Chief Clarence Rus­sell.

“We don’t want to do it,” Rus­sell said dur­ing dis­cus­sion on the is­sue at an Oct. 25 coun­cil meet­ing.

The de­bate stemmed from an Oct. 11 let­ter to all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince from Fred Hol­lett, the fire com­mis­sioner/di­rec­tor of fire ser­vices with Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices - NL. The let­ter of­fered ad­vice and guid­ance to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that have ac­quired, or plan to ac­quire, au­to­mated ex­ter­nal de­fib­ril­la­tors, or AEDS.

AEDS are de­vices that de­liver an elec­tric shock to a pa­tient’s heart dur­ing a med­i­cal emer­gency.

In his let­ter, Hol­lett said he has re­ceived a large num­ber of in­quiries re­lated to the prac­tices and poli­cies sur­round­ing the use of AEDS.

The Bay Roberts bri­gade has an AED in its in­ven­tory of equip­ment, but is not in­sured to re­spond to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

But if a med­i­cal cir­cum­stance arises dur­ing a non-med­i­cal re­sponse, the bri­gade can use the de­vice, as long as the user is cer­ti­fied, Rus­sell ex­plained.

“If our res­cue unit goes to a fire scene, mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent or Klondyke con­cert and some­one drops to the ground, we can use it … But, we do not want to touch med­i­cal calls,” Rus­sell stated.

In his let­ter, Hol­lett pointed out that med­i­cal re­sponse is not a nor­mal func­tion of a lo­cal fire depart­ment, but un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act, towns have the power to de­ter­mine the types of emer­gen­cies to which their fire de­part­ments will re­spond.

He cau­tioned that the cur­rent provin­cial ac­ci­dent in­sur­ance pro­vi­sion for fire­fight­ers “does not” cover med­i­cal calls. What’s more, he said, “in­sur­ance as cur­rently ex­ists does not pro­vide gen­eral li­a­bil­ity cov­er­age for a fire depart­ment pro­vid­ing med­i­cal re­sponse.”

He ad­vised mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties who are con­sid­er­ing adding med­i­cal re­sponse to con­sult with their gen­eral in­sur­ance car­rier.

“The town would have to pro­vide in­sur­ance,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

But that won’t be nec­es­sary, since coun­cil voted to sup­port the depart­ment’s de­ci­sion to not re­spond to med­i­cal calls.

“I don’t think we can have our vol­un­teers do­ing some­thing they’re not safe or com­fort­able with do­ing,” said Wood.

Rus­sell feels that adding med­i­cal calls would over­tax the vol­un­teer mem­bers of the bri­gade, and he wor­ries that if the depart­ment starts re­spond­ing to med­i­cal emer­gen­cies, the am­bu­lance may not show up.

“With the in­sur­ance is­sue, the next thing we’ll have to start trans­port­ing peo­ple to Car­bon­ear,” he said.

Rus­sell be­lieves tak­ing up med­i­cal calls could draw the fire depart­ment away from non-med­i­cal re­sponses, such are fires and ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents.

“We’ll spend our time re­spond­ing to med­i­cal calls,” he said.

Mo­torists who in­sist on oc­cu­py­ing the fire lane in front of the Bay Roberts Mall should ex­pect to see more of mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer Perry Bow­er­ing.

“He was up there last Fri­day for a num­ber of hours,” said Coun. Melvin Walsh.

Coun­cil­lor Ger­ald Green­land said he felt like the ef­forts put into mon­i­tor­ing the fire lane were “a lost cause and noth­ing seems to change up there.”

Mayor Wood en­cour­aged coun­cil to re­main vig­i­lant on the is­sue.

Town en­ters into agree­ment with PCO

A des­o­late struc­ture lo­cated on Co­ley’s Point South has been iden­ti­fied as a haven for ro­dent ac­tiv­ity. Cur­rently, the struc­ture is sched­uled to be de­mol­ished. Coun­cil voted to en­ter into a 12-month agree­ment with PCO for the com­pany to mon­i­tor and con­trol the ro­dent prob­lem in the area once the struc­ture does come down.

“There is a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the town to keep them un­der con­trol,” said Walsh. “It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter this area and en­sure our res­i­dents are in a safe environment. Not only are ro­dents a prob­lem, but they also can carry dis­ease.”

Pre­vi­ously, PCO had been brought in to eval­u­ate the ro­dent prob­lem in the area of the house.

Fire con­cerns

Rus­sell brought some con­cerns the fire depart­ment has about an in­di­vid­ual start­ing bar­rell fires on the week­end.

“Ev­ery week­end it is the same on-go­ing is­sue on Church Hill, with a fella burn­ing every­thing un­der the sun in a bar­rell,” he said. The town has a reg­u­la­tion that you can­not burn in bar­rells. Bow­er­ing had been asked to go in­ves­ti­gate Oct. 22. The fire was burn­ing, but the per­son re­spon­si­ble was not there.

“About an hour af­ter Perry left, the in­di­vid­ual re­turned,” said Rus­sell.

Rus­sell said he would like to see the reg­u­la­tions more strictly en­forced.

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