Port Moody City Council is calling on BC Emergency Health Services to ensure that urgent and non-urgent 9-1-1 calls are forwarded to first responder agencies such as fire rescue services, so that all patients continue to receive the best possible care.
Port Moody City Council recently learned that BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) has implemented a new process – the Clinical Response Model – for assigning paramedics, ambulances, and other resources to 9-1-1 calls. As part of this new process, BCEHS has decided that in some cases, depending on the condition of the patient, it will no longer require the support of other first responder agencies such as fire rescue services.
The City of Port Moody and Port Moody Fire-Rescue (PMFR) believe this new process is placing members of the community at risk by potentially lengthening response times.
“It is our hope that after hearing our concerns, BC Emergency Health Services will agree that support from other first responder agencies, including fire rescue services such as PMFR with its highly-trained personnel with First Responder Level 3 status, is vital to ensure the best possible care for all patients,” says Mayor Mike Clay.
The Clinical Response Model was launched by BCEHS on May 30, 2018. Since June 1, 2018, Port Moody Fire-Rescue has seen a drop of more than 40 per cent in its medical responses.
Fire Chief Ron Coulson explains the drop is due to BCEHS’s new process because most calls coded as Orange (urgent or potentially serious but not immediately life-threatening) and Yellow (non-urgent) are no longer forwarded to Port Moody Fire-Rescue. When Orange or Yellow calls are forwarded to PMFR, this is done only after 10 minutes have passed and BC Ambulance Service Dispatch (BCAS) has been unable to find an available BCAS unit.
“Minutes, and possibly seconds, matter in the majority of pre-hospital care responses,” says Coulson. “A 10-minute delay in calling for support could put lives at risk.”
Port Moody City Council sent an official letter to Carl Roy, President, BC Emergency Health Services, requesting that BCEHS’s First Responder Medical Program make full use of first responder agencies like Port Moody Fire-Rescue.
In the early 1990s, Port Moody Fire-Rescue opted in to BCEHS’s First Responder Medical Program, which included a licencing component for all levels of field-based first responders. The agreement between BCEHS and PMFR meant that PMFR would respond to a wide variety of calls if resources were available, at the expense of the City of Port Moody.
Port Moody Fire-Rescue staff are well-equipped to provide support as first responders. All staff currently hold First Responder Level 3 licences – this means they are highly-trained and qualified to respond to even the most serious calls (those coded Purple, i.e. immediately life-threatening, and Red, i.e. immediately life-threatening or time critical). Their training includes specialized protocols such as Naloxone delivery, operation of an automated external defibrillator (AED), spinal immobilization, blood pressure monitoring, epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) administration, and pulse oximetry.