Brigade says no to medical calls
Bay Roberts chief concerned extra duties would be too taxing for volunteers
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.
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.