Firefighter raises concerns about equipment
A Rocky View fireman is raising concern about a downgrade in medical training and equipment being removed from County firetrucks.
Bill Rendall, a firefighter who has volunteered at the Madden station for about 15 years, thinks the public should know about the recent changes, which include oxygen being removed from the trucks.
“I do think it can be a concern,” said Rendall. “It is certainly not rare for the volunteer fire department to be the first on scene. These are friends and neighbours and often family… I don’t see a firefighter standing around twiddling their thumbs until an ambulance arrived.”
Rocky View’s firemen are no longer able to check blood, provide oxygen, package people to immobilize their spines or check oxygen saturation in their blood, although they can still administer basic first aid with defibrillation, according to Fire Chief Ken McMullen.
Rendall said the equipment was recently removed from the trucks, likely due to the province’s take-over of ambulance services, which was phased in over the past several years.
It is probably because the municipalities feel that the province should be paying for the training and the medical supplies on the trucks, he said. Rendall suspects the Province feels municipalities should be responsible for the costs.
“There is only one taxpayer and obviously I would like to see it restored,” he said, adding that it was the firefighters’ job to stabilize patients until EMS arrived.
McMullen said the changes were necessary because of the fire department’s tight budget and the associated costs of training the County’s 225 firefighters.
“If we pay (for certification) it is a significant outlay of dollars for us and we have no way to recuperate that because dollars don’t follow the patients for us,” he said.
McMullen said if Alberta Health Services would cover the costs of certification, the County’s fire department would gladly return to its service levels prior to the changes, which took place Jan. 1.
“Ideally, we would love to be able to provide an increased level of service, but it is very difficult to do it with the constraints that are in place,” he said.
McMullen assures residents that Rocky View Fire Services is still able to respond medically during an emergency.
“We still respond and we are still there to stabilize and do basic CPR,” he said.